This comes less than a week after Gov. John Kasich signed a bill that bans public worker strikes, eliminates binding arbitration and restricts bargaining for 350,000 public workers to wages and certain working conditions. Unions and most Democrats opposed the measure, which drew thousands of protesters to the Statehouse over the past month.
The organization anno-unced Friday that it was staging 20 protest rallies in 14 cities across Ohio. Most are on Monday ó the anniversary of King’s 1968 assassination in Memphis. About 20 states will see similar rallies, including Maine, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Florida and Minnesota.
The free public screening begins at 5:30 p.m. The 1993 film is a documentary by directors David Appleby, Stephen John Ross and Allison Graham, capturing the 1968 sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tenn., where Dr. King marched with more than 1,000 workers and was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel on April 4.
“Not only are we honoring him, but we are also standing in solidarity with public workers throughout the country that have been under attack lately with their rights to collectively bargain. King believed in collective bargaining rights and he died for it and we feel that this is a good day for everybody to remember that and to honor him,” said Cherice Keyser, coordinator for the Shawnee Labor Council.
Kasich’s campaign sent out an email ahead of Thursday’s signing soliciting funds to fight the likely ballot campaign that would overturn the hard-fought law. Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern has also begun soliciting funds for a campaign to overturn the law, and Jesse Jackson has pledged his Rainbow PUSH Coalition will help gather more than 230,000 valid signatures needed by June 30 to put a referendum on November’s ballot.
Rebecca Heimlich, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Ohio, a conservative advocacy group that supported the measure, argued that the bill provides workers greater freedom. She cited a provision that prohibits the collection of union dues from people who don’t wish to join.
“One thing unions are very good at, they’re good at messaging,” she said. “One of my frustrations is that they twist the truth ... . This bill is giving state employees more liberty. I don’t see how Martin Luther King could disagree with that.”
Keyser said she doesn’t want to put words in Dr. King’s mouth, but she called this a human rights issue and thinks King would call the Ohio bill a step back.
“He felt that collective bargaining was one of the only ways that people could attain (equal rights). It was a great equalizer because unions had the ability to equalize on all fronts. It prevented discrimination in the workplace,” Keyser said.