teacher Jeff Arra is hoping to fill two books of signatures to bring SB5, the Ohio Senate Bill that eliminates collective bargaining privileges for workers employed by the State of Ohio, including teachers. Changes for public employees also include the elimination of binding arbitration for safety forces.
A drive is underway to take the bill, which passed, to a November referendum. If enough signatures are collected, the bill could be repealed in the November General Election.
Arra, an English teacher, is also the vice president of the Avon Lake Education Association, the local teacher’s union affiliated with the Ohio Education Association.
“The OEA is not pushing the door-to-door,” Arra said about collecting signatures. “I’m getting a lot of emails from people out of town saying, ‘my mom and dad want to sign this, can you go to their house?’”
Arra thought it would be more efficient to set up a central signing place for registered Lorain County voters to go to and sign the book. He would like to fill two books that each need 170 valid signatures.
The state requires 231,149 valid signatures from 44 Ohio counties to place a referendum of the law on the ballot.
He called the state’s referendum drive “very organized.” Recently, Ohio Association of Public Service Employees (OAPSE) union workers held a similar drive at the high school.
Arra and eight other union representatives have been trained on how to collect signatures. He said he is allowed to collect signatures as long as does not conflict with union-set working hours. He will be at the high school’s south parking lot (near the electronic sign on Avon Belden Road) this Saturday from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
“If it’s raining I’ll have a tent set up,” he said. To sign the petition, a person must be a registered Lorain County voter. Similar drives have been held in other Ohio counties.
Arra said the referendum was important.
“It has really unified us as public employees,” he said. “It’s not about politics. We’re worried as taxpayers because of the effect this could have on the (educational) institution.”