'No On SB 5': Final weeks of the petition drive
The first phase of the effort to overturn John Kasich's union busting law is almost complete. Last night I attended a meeting of local activists that has been getting together regularly throughout the process, and was filled in on some of the details. None of it was for official publication so I won't release any numbers, but it looks like the totals will be pretty amazing. Even the rough preliminary estimations have blown way past the most wildly optimistic and ambitious benchmarks set by supporters. Watch for it soon, and hang on to your hats.
A few words on the process. We Are Ohio has been attempting to vet the returned petitions before sending them on to the Secretary of State in order to do a preliminary validation. The idea is to make sure the petitions sent back are as solid as possible, and to keep the number rejected to an absolute minimum. The more reliable the numbers are, the better chance we will know exactly where it stands.
The drop dead date for getting signatures to the Secretary of State is June 30th. We Are Ohio is trying to get its stragglers back by around a week before in order to check them. Anyone running an effort independent of We Are Ohio (or who procrastinates past roughly the end of next week) will have to get the signatures to Columbus themselves.
Starting July 1st we will enter something of a twilight zone. There will be no ballot-related activity for folks to engage in, and until it actually gets approved there will not even be a specific measure to promote. And obviously with summer vacation in full swing lots of people are off doing their own thing. So how to keep it in the public consciousness?
One way is to give it some visibility at fairs, festivals and so on. Any place where there will be booths for local community or political groups, there are opportunities for activists to get the word out. I am already signed up for one next weekend, and will likely help at several others in July and August. (If you'd like to help drop me a note in the comments!)
Another is the initiative being run by Proud Ohio Workers. According to its site it "was created to allow merchants across the state to show that they recognize public employee support for their shops." It has created an interactive map showing the businesses that support the initiative, and they can show that support with a Proud Ohio Workers sticker. Customers who see it will obviously be reminded of the issue, and activists can help get the word out about them.
While it might be tough for an individual to throw some work to, say, a tool and die shop (not that you shouldn't try!), just about anyone with a little disposable income can support a restaurant. Which is exactly what our family did last week. Here is one such place:
Right now most of the Proud Ohio Workers shops are small businesses. They have taken it on the chin in recent years, and with the union busting tactics of big corporations becoming increasingly brazen it might just be time to re-invigorate the Buy Local movement. Obviously, being local or small is no guarantee; there are certainly plenty of businesses willing to get behind SB 5 (via). But it seems owners tied to the community are more likely to be supportive of middle class issues.
In the post-Citizens United world consumers' spending choices have a political dimension that would have been hard to imagine even a few years ago. It used to just be "buy American" or "look for the union label," but now with groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council writing laws for state governments and Americans For Prosperity pouring in vast sums to support them, it is increasingly important to identify the many different grounds where state and local battles are being fought - and raise awareness on an issue by issue basis. (We should still look to support the longer term efforts of workers to organize large corporations, of course.)
Resources like the Proud Ohio Workers map are valuable tools in that effort. If we can keep reminding people of it, we can build momentum for having it factor into how money gets spent. If we can persuade people to, even once a month, check that map before leaving the house, we can show merchants that it is in their immediate as well as enlightened self interest to support worker friendly initiatives. That in turn could have an impact long after the fall campaign season gets cranked up.