Workers' State of the State Response Rally, protesting against Senate Bill 5 on March 8, 2011 in Columbus, OH. (Photo: netzanette)
About 60 people gathered at the AFL-CIO office in downtown Columbus, Ohio, to rally and volunteer their time on a sunny Friday evening in early October. They came from a variety of backgrounds: white and black, urban and rural, young and old. Armed with a phone bank and canvassing clipboards, they participated in a campaign to rally Ohio voters to repeal legislation known as Senate Bill 5. If passed, the law would limit collective bargaining rights on issues like staffing levels for Ohio's 360,000 public workers and require some public workers to pay more in pension and health care costs. The volunteers, dressed in T-shirts and jeans, are labor's foot soldiers in a political battle attracting national attention and political spending. It is a bitter clash of class, ideology and political tactics, pitting the public sector against the private sector, and Ohio's labor movement against a web of Republican front groups that refuse to disclose their campaign finances.