A hearing on a bill that could strip public employees of collective bargaining rights drew
thousands of protesters, including former Gov. Ted Strickland, to the Statehouse on Tuesday
Union leaders said their members and supporters will rally at the state capitol, as lawmakers continue hearings on Senate Bill 5, 10TV's Danielle Elias reported.
The Republican-backed measure would end collective bargaining rights for state workers and restrict teachers, firefighters, police, and university employees.
The bill was proposed by Sen. Shannon Jones, and is supported by Gov. John Kasich.
If the bill passes, it would end collective bargaining rights for state workers, and set up a merit-based pay system.
Police and firefighters, who cannot strike, would lose binding arbitration, and it could weaken bargaining ability for teachers.
Supporters said the measure could help control spending and provide more flexibility for
Opponents have called the bill misguided and said it will hurt Ohio workers.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland was at the Statehouse on Tuesday and spoke to protesters. Thousands
of protesters started chanting "kill the bill."
The Ohio Democratic party criticized procedures at the Statehouse on Tuesday, saying that only 750 people had been allowed inside.
"This is the people's house. Ohioans came from all over the state today to make their voices heard," Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said. "To make them stand in the freezing cold and snow today is an unfathomable and unprecedented step."
Statehouse officials said just after 1:30 p.m. that they would allow 500 more people into the rotunda area, but much of the Statehouse was at or near capacity.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety took over operation of the Statehouse for the day, citing safety concerns presented by crowding.
The Ohio Highway Patrol initially allowed about 1,200 people into the building, leaving thousands more outside in below-freezing temperatures.
Hearings were being simulcast at the Vern Riffe Center. Protesters who could not get into the Statehouse were directed to there, 10TV's Kevin Landers reported.
Thousands of protesters showed up during two hearings last week to voice their opinion of the bill.
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