By Ed Runyan
Danny Callahan, owner of Callahan’s Family Restaurant on East Market Street, has joined hundreds of small businesses in Ohio that want to stress the importance of unionized workers in light of the passage of Senate Bill 5.
Callahan signed on two months ago to display a large sticker at his entrance saying that Callahan “proudly accepts business from hard working public and private employees.”
The restaurant, formerly known as the Coffee Cup Cafe, located at Chestnut and East Market streets, has done a little more business since displaying the stickers, Callahan said.
Callahan says the message means he believes that middle-class workers, many of them unionized government workers who are in danger of losing some collective-bargaining rights because of Senate Bill 5, should be treated fairly.
“Middle-class Americans do the buying,” Callahan said.
Callahan was approached by the organization Proud Ohio, which is made up of members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union and other unions, to participate in the program.
Proud Ohio’s website says the program was created to allow merchants to show that they recognize public-employee support for their shops.
“The sticker is a signal to public and private employees that their shop is worker-friendly, simply recognizing that public dollars are spent in their store,” the organization said.
JoAnn Johntony, state president of the Ohio Association of School Employees and a custodian for Girard city schools, said she thanks business owners such as Callahan for calling attention to the fact that if wages are cut for public employees, there will be detrimental effects on small-business owners.
“It’s not just public employees; everybody’s struggling. When you put us out of work, what’s going to happen to the small-business owners? It’s so sad that it’s such an attack on workers. It’s so sad that we couldn’t all work together.”
Tom Connelly, president of AFSCME 2026, which represents nurses at Trumbull Memorial Hospital, said SB 5 especially will hurt small businesses.
“You don’t see the CEO of General Electric sitting here. You have Middle America here, and you have them buying flowers at my sister’s flower shop,” Connelly said.
Proud Ohio officials say about 500 businesses have signed up to participate in the campaign so far. Others can participate by going to the website www.proudohioworkers.com.