A group that has initiated a campaign aimed at getting Senate Bill 5 repealed has opened an office in Marietta, allowing those who oppose the bill to easily obtain campaign materials and help make phone calls to residents.
We Are Ohio spokeswoman Melissa Fazekas said the organization is opening about 35 offices statewide. The Marietta office opened Monday in the Putnam Commons at 121 Putnam St. It will be open daily.
"Some of them are open (and) some of them are still in the process of getting up and running but in the next few weeks, all of them should be open," she said. "It's helpful to have these field offices set up so people can go into the office and get information and knock on doors."
ASHLEY RITTENHOUSE The Marietta Times
Matt Lorz, field organizer with We Are Ohio, looks over a cell phone in the group’s campaign office in the Putnam Commons on Putnam Street in Marietta. The organization is trying to get Senate Bill 5 repealed by calling residents and knocking on doors.
The collective bargaining law, which would let public worker unions negotiate wages but not health care, sick time or pension benefits, was approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature in March. The law also bans strikes and eliminates automatic pay increases, replacing them with merit raises or performance pay.
The law affects 350,000 public workers, including teachers, police officers, fire fighters and state employees.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich and other Republicans have argued the legislation will help city officials, school superintendents and others control their costs at a time when they are experiencing budget woes.
We Are Ohio campaign office
Opened Monday in the Putnam Commons at 121 Putnam St., Marietta.
There will be phone banks set up there and literature available regarding the group's efforts to repeal Senate Bill 5.
The office will be open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
In April, it was announced that We Are Ohio could start collecting the signatures required to put a referendum on the November ballot.
It was announced last month that statewide, more than 915,000 valid signatures were collected-significantly more than the 231,000 valid signatures that were required.
Fazekas said since that announcement was made, opponents of the law have been trying to get the word out that it needs to be repealed by calling residents and going door to door.
She said having the offices set up will make these tasks easier.
"Volunteers will be able to get packets (then) they can go knock on people's doors and talk to them about the campaign," Fazekas said, noting that there will also be a phone bank set up in the office.
We Are Ohio saw Marietta as an obvious location to establish an office, she added.
"We had nearly 4,000 valid signatures in Washington County that were collected and we only needed 637 to get on the ballot, so that shows there's a really great support level in that area," she said.
Caldwell resident Matt Arnold, 49, was among those who were volunteering recently in the office. He works at the Ohio Department of Transportation's office in Noble County.
"When I first came to ODOT, it was before collective bargaining and they fired people based on politics and going back to that wouldn't be good at all," he said.
Devola resident Sue Price, a teacher at Waterford Elementary School, has also signed up to volunteer at the office.
"I was in the Peace Corps in a third world country in 1979 and 1980 - they didn't have public schools, you put out your own fires and the police were crooked," she said. "I feel Ohio is heading towards third world country status if we're going to undermine our public service (workers)."
Devola resident Flo Beidler is also helping out with the campaign to get the measure repealed. She said one reason she's participating is because her mother helped get a garment workers union established in a factory she once worked for in New Jersey.
"I see it as an unfair attack on the working class and middle class families," she said.
Fazekas said anyone who wants to stop at the office and volunteer to make phone calls or knock on doors is welcome to do so. Additionally, she said anyone who wants more information about Senate Bill 5 and We Are Ohio's campaign can stop there.
"It's really important people understand Senate Bill 5 is unsafe, unfair and hurts us all," she said.