Friday, April 29, 2011

Homeless Support Collective Bargaining

May 6: Petition Drive to Allow Citizens to Vote on the Anti Collective Bargaining Law

People experiencing homelessness realize the value unions have in our society to protect wages so that workers who put a full day of labor into a job can afford a place to live that evening. There is a significant attack on the rights of workers to bargain collectively sweeping the country. People who are homeless and all lower income workers are concerned about these attempts to undermine unions in Ohio and the United States. On May 6, volunteers, people who are homeless and advocates will fan out throughout the state to gather petition signatures in order to get the recently passed Senate Bill 5 on the ballot in November. Homeless Coalitions in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus will deploy volunteers to local area shelters to gather signatures. The vendors for the three street newspapers in the three cities will be joining many others in collecting enough signatures to authorize a statewide ballot measure to decide the fate of collective bargaining for public employees in November.

Many people who are homeless are laid off members of a union, and most people who are homeless have a goal of one day working in a workplace protected by a union. “We all remember the words of President Ronald Reagan, ‘The [brave workers in Poland] remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost,’ and have come together to try to protect the rights of workers to organize in Ohio,” said Cleveland Homeless Coalition director Brian Davis. Vendors for the Cincinnati Streetvibes, Columbus Street Speech, and Cleveland Street Chronicle will gather petition signatures in the Downtowns of the three major cities in Ohio. Josh Spring, Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless director said, “We all believe that union organizing and the ability to sit down with an employer on an equal footing is a social justice issue, and must be protected in Ohio.”

Contrary to popular belief most people who are homeless do vote and are registered to vote. In fact, the Cleveland and Columbus Coalitions settled a lawsuit in 2010 with the State of Ohio over access to the ballot on Election Day for homeless people without identification. During the day of action, advocates and volunteers will be registering people who are homeless to vote. Advocates statewide need 231,000 legitimate signatures before the end of June 2011 to get the initiative on the November ballot, and allow voters to decide on the law before it becomes law.

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