By Denise Dick
Teachers, Youngstown State University students, faculty and staff and other opponents of Senate Bill 5 stomped their feet, brandished signs and chanted, “Kill the Bill.”
The Rally for Education and Community, organized by the YSU chapter of Students for Social Justice and other students, drew a couple of hundred people Monday to YSU’s Beeghly Center.
Molly Toth, a YSU senior, emceed the rally, telling those who attended that she’s glad they came.
“But the fact remains that we shouldn’t have to be doing this,” she said. “This battle has already been fought.”
She called SB 5, a bill signed by Gov. John Kasich that will strip public employees of some collective-bargaining rights, an attack on basic and fundamental rights.
“What do we want to do? We want to kill the bill,” Toth said.
Members of the crowd repeated that rallying cry and showed signs that read, “Stop the War on Workers,” “Educators Against SB 5” and “Save Collective Bargaining in Ohio.”
Molly Rogers, a YSU sophomore majoring in special education, talked about how the law casts a cloud over her future career.
A teacher’s positive attitude is part of what allows children to learn, she said.
“How can a person have a positive attitude if they know their job is always at risk?” Rogers said.
Julia Gergits, president of the union that represents YSU faculty, said that under SB 5, university faculty would become managers.
“We would no longer be unionized if this bill is implemented — boom — just like that,” she said.
Kasich’s proposed budget also negatively affects employees and the middle class, Gergits said.
“Not only do we have to kill the bill, we have to take back Ohio,” she said.
Gary Davenport, a YSU senior and vice president for university affairs, Student Government Association, and one of the rally’s organizers, agreed.
“The first thing we have to do is to kill this bill,” he said. “The next thing is to get ready for three more years of this.”
State Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield, D-33rd, said SB 5 will affect people who work in the private sector as well. As public employees’ pay is cut, they have less money to buy cars or to go out to dinner, he said.
Rally speakers urged attendees to get involved in the referendum petition to repeal the legislation.
Dan Buckler, a YSU graduate student, started Students for Social Justice this semester after noting a lack of political activism and scant social activism on campus.
“It was a hole that needed to be filled,” he said.
The group promotes equality and justice, calling for lower tuition, and also supports workers.
“Workers should have a voice in their places of employment,” Buckler said.