History was made on November 8, when Ohioans overwhelmingly voted NO on Issue 2 to repeal Senate Bill 5. The 61 to 39 percent landslide victory symbolizes our nation’s refusal to let Ohio Governor Kasich and other politicians strip workers of their collective bargaining rights. It was a public statement that we won’t stand for right-wing legislators trying to use the economic downturn as a way to shove through their own agendas that favor our nation’s wealthiest one percent.
Senate Bill 5 would have removed the rights of more than 360,000 workers—fire fighters, nurses, teachers and other public servants—to collectively bargain for fair and safe workplace conditions. Defeating this legislation is a huge turning point in the national fight to preserve America’s middle class.
National Federation of Nurses (NFN) and its member associations were there at the beginning. In Madison, Wisconsin where similar legislation was introduced, NFN president Barbara Crane, RN spoke to thousands in Wisconsin’s Capitol Rotunda.
"We want to stand with our brothers and sisters for what we consider the genocide of the middle class of this country…” Crane said. "As a nurse, I know what a code looks like, and a code red is happening at ground zero in Wisconsin, and it’s got to stop now!”
Then in Ohio, to support the great efforts of the Ohio Nurses Association and the We Are Ohio campaign, NFN and its members provided on-the-ground presence, financial support, and countless hours working to raise awareness about this critical issue and the negative impact it would have had on ALL workers in Ohio and beyond.
"Without qualm or question, NFN and its member state nurses associations have given assistance ranging from public demonstrations of solidarity to offers to provide release staff to ONA, said Kelly Trautner, labor director for Ohio Nurses Association. "Financial contributions from NFN and Washington State Nurses Association have provided immense assistance in ensuring success of our SB5 referendum efforts. And planning with other NFN states promises a great deal of hands on support in the months ahead from nurses in Indiana, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington.”
For nurses, defeating this legislation was quite literally a matter of life or death. Collective bargaining allows us to make sure there are safety provisions in place that protect nurses and, more importantly, our patients. These include policies that ensure nurses aren’t assigned to too many patients at once or forced to lift heavier patients without the right safety equipment, which can lead to mistakes, injuries and death.
This is a significant victory and significant recognition is due to the Ohio Nurses Association and its members, We Are Ohio and the thousands of workers—both public and private from all over the country—who tirelessly advocated and voted for the repeal of SB 5. Watch a short video that illustrates the energy and solidarity behind this win.
We celebrate today. And tomorrow the work continues to make sure that the 99 percent of Americans have a voice and access to jobs in environments where their safety and well being are protected.
Thank you to everyone who made this victory possible. We salute you.