Monday, Aug 29, 2016
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SB 5 opponents: 89,610 signed in Lucas County

The nearly 90,000 signatures that were collected in Lucas County to petition the state's new collective bargaining law are evidence the measure won't stand muster when put to Ohio voters, opponents of the law said Friday.

We Are Ohio, a pro-union group that has led the referendum initiative, went on a media blitz Friday to announce a breakdown of the nearly 1.3 million signatures collected over the last two months. In Lucas County, opponents of the labor law gathered 89,610 signatures, the group reported.

"I feel very confident Senate Bill 5 will go down," said Sandra Schroeder, a social media coordinator for the University of Toledo chapter of the American Association of University Professors and volunteer spokesman for We Are Ohio.

The signatures have not yet been certified, but based on the number -- opponents need only about 231,149 for a referendum -- there's little doubt a referendum will go to voters.

Ms. Schroeder argued nothing good could come from the law, which she said could create a hostile environment for educators and was an "unfair attack" on employees' rights and workers' safety. "With our police officers not being able to negotiate for their equipment and our firemen not being able to negotiate for their equipment, this puts us all in harm's way," she said.

Jason Mauk, a spokesman for the pro-Senate Bill 5 group Building a Better Ohio, said that was untrue and accused opponents of the law of spreading "irresponsible lies."

The law specifically says personal safety equipment issues are subject to collective bargaining, but final say on disputes would rest with the government's legislative body rather than an independent arbitrator.

SB 5 includes provisions that would prohibit public employees from striking and limit what they can negotiate at the bargaining table.

Among the data We Are Ohio reported were 4,682 signatures gathered in Ottawa County, 3,496 in Fulton County, and 2,277 in Henry County. Numbers for Wood County were not available.

"It's great to see all of those people engaged in the process, but frankly it's not about the process of getting a referendum on the ballot, it's about the choice Ohioans need to make," Mr. Mauk said.

The Ohio secretary of state is taking inventory of the petitions and will send them back to county boards of election for validation sometime next week. Valid signatures must be certified by July 26 to put the referendum on the November ballot.

Groups on both sides of the issue pledged educational campaigns about the law leading up to the election.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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