by Clyde Weiss | June 05, 2012
OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4 members (clockwise from top left) Tracey Shull, Cindy Weible, Karen Holdridge and Angie Klein. (Photo by Amy Hendrick)
MADISON, Wis. – For the past two weeks, four dedicated union members from Ohio have been pounding the pavement of this capital city, driving home the message that people need to get to the polls today to recall Gov. Scott Walker and restore public service workers’ collective bargaining rights.
These members of Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4) are giving back to Wisconsin what the state’s workers gave them during their own fight last year to defeat Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s Senate Bill 5.
That legislation, which voters defeated during an election last November, would have eliminated the right of public workers to collectively bargain their wages, health insurance, pensions and other benefits. Read more about their victory here.
Karen Holdridge, a bus driver for Columbus Public Schools and a member of Local 3366 of OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4, was one of the thousands of volunteers in Ohio who fought Kasich’s end run on workers’ rights. Now she is walking up to a house not far from Wisconsin’s state Capitol, where tens of thousands of union members and supporters unsuccessfully fought last winter to prevent the loss of their collective bargaining rights. Over the barking of a dog, Holdridge introduces herself to the owner, who says she’s voting for recall challenger Tom Barrett. “All right, bright and early!” Holdridge reminds her.
She’s joined in Madison by Angie Klein, a Kettering City Schools bus driver and district secretary for her union, OAPSE Local 573; and Tracy Shull, a custodian at Ohio’s Oregon City Schools and president of OAPSE Local 320 (and also OAPSE’s Northwest District vice president) and Cindy Weible, president of OAPSE Local 279 in Toledo and Northwest District president of OAPSE.
All four OAPSE members say they have been welcomed with open arms by Wisconsin voters – in one case, literally. One man Weible met on a canvass walk “couldn’t thank me enough for my being here,” she recalled. “He came out of the house and gave me a hug for helping and then went back in the house,” only to return with bananas and juice boxes.
“People from Wisconsin came to Ohio to help us,” adds Shull. “We’re returning that favor. We’re all working together.”
Klein is motivated to fight by the legacy left by her parents. “My father and grandparents worked for a union, and they fought for our rights,” she said. “We don’t want to lose those rights, so we just all need to stick together. It doesn’t matter what union we’re with.”
“This will not only affect Wisconsin, it’s also going to affect all the United States,” says Shull. “So we’re out here to make sure they do away with Walker and get our rights back.”