By Marc Kovac
Opponents of controversial collective-bargaining reform signed into law recently by Gov. John Kasich are literally waiting for the ink to dry on petitions so they can begin collecting signatures to place the issue on the November ballot.
Dennis Willard, spokesman for We Are Ohio, one of the groups involved in the drive, told reporters Monday that 100,000 petition booklets are being printed and checked to ensure there were no ink splotches before sending them to 10,000-plus volunteers who will circulate them throughout the state.
Senate Bill 5 opponents could begin adding their signatures to the booklets as soon as Friday.
“Our goal is to get between 460,000 and half a million signatures,” Willard said.
SB 5 places limits on collective bargaining, changing the way more than 350,000 public workers have negotiated contract terms for nearly three decades. The new law also prohibits strikes and enables state and local governments to base employee pay decision on performance.
Proponents say the law is needed to enable state and local governments to better control their costs, but opponents say it’s a politically motivated attack on unions.
Opponents have until the end of June to collect more than 231,000 valid signatures from Ohio voters to place the referendum on the November ballot. If they are successful, the provisions of SB 5 will not take effect until after the election, unless voters repeal it.
On Friday, Secretary of State Jon Husted certified the initial petition signatures submitted by We Are Ohio to start the referendum process. He also signed off on the full text of SB 5, which was submitted to his office for review. And Attorney General Mike DeWine OK’d the summary language for the petitions, paving the way for opponents to begin collecting signatures.
Willard said printing of the petition booklets started over the weekend. Each will be spiral bound and have room for about 70 signatures.
In coming days, the booklets will be checked to ensure they meet requirements, and volunteers will be trained on how to gather signatures.