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Alexander High School teacher Jenny Lang speaks to a group rallying against Senate Bill 5 gathered in The Scripps Amphitheater Apr. 17. Senate Bill 5 has been a big topic of controversy with both students and Ohio residents across the state.

Residents, students protest SB 5


Fifty heated Athens residents and Ohio University students gathered at the Scripps Amphitheater yesterday for a rally in retaliation to the union-busting Senate Bill 5.

Four speakers took the mic at the People’s Veto Kick-Off Rally, providing their stories and opinions on the bill and urging people to join the cause against the bill.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the bill, which limits collective bargaining rights for public employees, into law last month. These public employees include police officers, teachers and firefighters.

Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly, one speaker at the rally, noted how the bill could jeopardize public safety because it would slash funding to public service including police, firefighters, teachers and nurses.

“I do not and will not support S.B. 5,” Kelly said.

Kelly added that southeastern Ohio deserves funding for public service jobs.

“(Kasich) needs to pay attention to southeastern Ohio,” Kelly said. “We deserve the jobs here.”

Jenny Lang, a science teacher at Alexander High School, also spoke at the rally, discussing how collective bargaining gives teachers a voice and that it is important for teachers as well as children that collective bargaining remains in existence.

“What we teachers bargain for is for things like maximum class size so we can spend time with all our students or planning time,” Lang said. “We must fit for our rights and especially for the children of Ohio.”

Nancy Shell, former health educator at OU and Ohio State University and Board Chair of Children’s Services, talked about how she believes the negatives of the bill outweigh the positives.

“There have been huge shifts in wealth in this country,” Shell said. “S.B. 5 is taking the power away from the middle class people and giving it to those few who have wealth.”

K.J. Watts, Fifth District Vice President of the Ohio Association of Professional Fighters concluded the rally, speaking about how S.B. 5 is reverting state government and workers’ rights back to the 1910s.

“Unions equal workers’ rights,” Watts said. “Collective bargaining gave us the weekend, the 40-hour work week and security and health benefits.”

Watts said it is an issue that cannot be ignored and the people of southeastern Ohio need to raise their voices to keep the rights people deserve.

“It is time for (Ohioans) to stand up and be heard,” Watts said.


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