Over 1,000 demonstrators converged on the regional airport in Youngstown, Ohio, today to protest the arrival of Gov. John Kasich. The Republican governor, who is leading a drive to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights, spoke at fund-raising event sponsored by the Trumbull County Chamber of Commerce.
According to the Youngstown Vindicator, the event was to be held at another location, but “Kasich, a Republican, requested it be relocated to an airport hangar to help those attending the event avoid protesters.”
The United Steelworkers, SEIU, AFSCME, Firefighters, and United Auto Workers organized the protest. Local Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, interviewed prior to the event on WFMJ-TV, said there were efforts to disrupt the demonstration. “They are trying to block roads. They’re doing everything they can to make sure we do not have a successful coalition,” Betras said.
Workers held up signs and shouted “Kill the bill,” refering to the union-busing Senate Bill 5. One sign read, “Screw us and we multiply.” State Rep. Robert Hagan and U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan were among the protesters along with other local officials.
Youngstown resident Roz Sims, 89, said the demonstration was one of the biggest she’d seen in the area. “Kasich is through,” she said. “He’s finished.”
Kasich’s trip was preceded by a visit by Bush loyalist Karl Rove on Tuesday. Rove was also a guest of the Chamber of Commerce. Rove was in the area to raise support for the Republican 2012 presidential bid. Protesters met Rove as well, calling him a warmonger.
In a related protest, Canton, Ohio, snow plow drivers face disciplinary charges after joining an anti-Kasich protest. “Canton city service director Warren Price says five or six plow drivers left their routes Tuesday afternoon to take their trucks past demonstrators outside an appearance by Gov. John Kasich,” the Repository of Canton reports. The news report says the drivers honked their horns in support of the protesters.
The report says, “More than 1,000 people showed up in opposition of state legislation that would change collective bargaining rules for public employees. Protesters flocked to the Civic Center for the appearance of Gov. John Kasich, the featured speaker Tuesday night at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet.”