By Marc Kovac
A coalition of unions and like-minded groups delivered more than 6,000 signatures to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted late Monday afternoon, the first filing required to place a repeal of a controversial collective-bargaining law before voters in November.
The We Are Ohio Coalition kicked off its signature-gathering effort Saturday, circulating two petitions — one with a short explanation of the ballot issue, the other with a longer version.
Both would accomplish the same goal — placing Senate Bill 5 on the general election ballot.
“We believe we’ll be well over the 1,000 signatures we need to prime the petition pump to get this moving forward,” said Dennis Willard, a group spokesman.
The Ohio Secretary of State and Attorney General’s offices will have to certify the signatures and the petition language before opponents are allowed to start gathering more than 231,000 signatures required to complete the referendum.
They’ll have until the end of June to submit those signatures, which will have to be checked by county elections boards and approved by the secretary of state.
Senate Bill 5 places limits on collective bargaining, changing the way more than 350,000 public employees have negotiated contract terms for nearly three decades.
Supporters say the bill is needed to enable state and local offices to better control their costs, but opponents say it’s nothing more than a “union-busting” effort and political payback by Republicans.
The bill passed the Ohio House and Senate on mostly party-line votes, and Kasich signed it into law last week.
The new law will take effect on July 1 unless opponents are successful in their referendum effort, in which case the law will be delayed until after the November election.
Willard said the petition process will be “the largest volunteer effort of signature gathering in the history of the state.”