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AFSCME cheers defeat of state Issue 1 in Ohio

Photo credit: AFSCME Ohio Council 8
AFSCME cheers defeat of state Issue 1 in Ohio
By AFSCME Staff ·

Ohioans who voted to defeat state Issue 1 last week sent a clear message to their elected leaders: We like to speak for ourselves, thank you.

The goal of Issue 1, the brainchild of corporate special interests and anti-worker politicians in the state legislature, was to make it harder for voters to amend their state’s constitution.

For more than 100 years, Ohioans have been able to do that, first by gathering signatures from 5% of voters in half of the state’s counties to place an amendment on the ballot, and then winning passage of the amendment with a simple majority vote.

Issue 1 would have made it harder to do this by requiring signatures from 5% of voters in all of the state’s counties and 60% of the vote for passage. An extremely gerrymandered legislature that’s increasingly out of touch with a majority of voters sent a clear message: It wanted to make it harder for voters to decide for themselves.

Ohioans voted overwhelmingly – 57% to 43% – against the proposed change, thus protecting their democratic voice from politicians who don’t always have their best interests at heart.

AFSCME was one of more than 200 organizations that formed a coalition to defeat Issue 1. AFSCME members canvassed heavily across Ohio and made more than 240,000 calls to voters.

It was a victory for the people of Ohio and their ability to decide for themselves on a host of issues, from redistricting reforms to the state minimum wage to labor rights.

Remember Senate Bill 5 (SB5) back in 2011? This unpopular bill, backed by special interest anti-worker forces, targeted collective bargaining rights for public service workers. After Gov. John Kasich signed it into law, Ohioans mobilized to repeal it. With the support of grassroots groups and labor unions, including AFSCME, they placed it on the November 2011 ballot and overwhelmingly defeated it.

Although SB5 did not involve a constitutional amendment, it was, similar to Issue 1, an attempt by self-serving politicians to ignore the will of the people. We surely haven’t seen the end of attacks on the rights and freedoms of Ohio working families. But voters will have a fighting chance as long as they protect their democratic voice and make it heard at the ballot box.

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