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Strickland, Brown to speak at SB5 rally

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Sen. Sherrod Brown are among the speakers at an upcoming rally against Senate bill 5.

The Southeast Ohio Solidarity Rally will be from 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Gallia County Junior Fair Grounds.

Rally committee co-chair Liz Shaw said the goal of the event is to encourage Ohioans to vote against Senate Bill 5, which is on the ballot for the November election.

Approximately 1.3 million Ohioans signed petitions to get Senate Bill 5 on the ballot. Only about 230,000 signatures were needed. Each county was required to collect signatures representing 3 percent of the voter turnout of 2011. All the counties got at least 6 percent, she said.

“(That) gives me a good feeling about what they feel, (but) feeling it and doing it are two different things,” Shaw said. “They have to vote how they felt in the summer. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about it to convince people not to vote against it. We feel like it’s very important to remind people of what they felt. That’s why we’re having the rally.”

Known as the union-busting bill, Senate Bill 5 would limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees including teachers, police officers and firefighters.

Fairland school district employee Barbara Ward helped collect 800 signatures in opposition of the bill in the Proctorville area. A bus driver for 31 years, Ward said the issue most hits home with her because it would mean that employers could fire employees for any reason. Ward had breast cancer and had to take time off and use the district’s health insurance, both of which could be a reason for employers possibly wanting to fire someone, she said. Age and pay scale, too, could be a reason that employer’s want to dismiss an employee, she said.

“Pay attention to what they’re saying,” Ward said. “Everyone in public service — police officers, fire fighters, school teachers — everyone that’s in public service is under attack. These are jobs we dedicated our whole lives to… I feel strongly about it. Vote no on issue 2.”

Ward said she will not be attending the rally because of another engagement but her union, the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, will be represented.

The committee, the Southeast Ohio Solidarity Committee, chose to have the rally in Gallia County because of the overwhelming response of residents of southeastern Ohio who signed petitions, Shaw said.

Shaw said she got involved with the rally because the issue affects her husband, a public employee, and “I have a small business and a lot of my customers are public workers I know if their wellbeing is compromised it trickles down to everyone’s wellbeing.”

Besides Strickland and Brown, Tim Burga, the state president for ALF-CIO will also speak at the rally. Burga has been an outspoken opponent of the bill.

Other speakers include union leaders and current and former elected officials.

At the rally, area unions will have booths to both recruit volunteers and share their missions. Food will be provided. Activities at the rally will include live music by the Boys of the Hock, the Magic Mama Band and the Cincinnati Emerald Society Police/Fire Pipes and Drums. Children’s activities include inflatables, games, face painting and others.

More information can be found at www.sosrally.org.