Ohio voters say NO to Issue 1 on August 8

Posted Aug. 9, 2023 by

Ohioans overwhelmingly vote to protect citizen initiatives and the people’s voice!

On Tuesday, August 8, Ohio voters let their voices be heard through the democratic process by soundly defeating Issue 1 at the polls. Issue 1 would have required more signatures to get a citizen-led constitutional amendment on the ballot and would have set a threshold of 60% of the vote, rather than a simple majority, for the amendment to pass. That’s a very high bar, and something that would have made citizen-led initiatives on almost any issue virtually impossible to pass.

Ohio unions, including those who led the No on Senate Bill 5 campaign to protect collective bargaining, know firsthand the power of the people's voice and the value of citizen-led initiatives, especially when it comes to overruling out-of-control legislative power.

"Government by the people is not to be fooled with," said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga after last night's vote results were announced. "Citizens initiatives are protected! The people have spoken!"

The Ohio AFL-CIO, of which OCSEA is a part, made the following statement on the defeat of Issue 1. Burga thanked union members for taking part in the democratic process to defeat of Issue 1. The non-partisan coalition to defeat Issue 1 and protect citizen-led initiatives included unions and members of both parties and was one of the largest coalitions of its kind in Ohio history.

Burga is also urging Ohio legislators to get back on track to end divisiveness in our state and to focus on issues important to working families, like job-building, infrastructure and the economy:

"The results of [the] August Special Election showed the impact of a united labor movement that rallied to defend the Ohio constitution and protect simple majority vote by educating, informing, and mobilizing voters across the state to vote NO on Issue 1. We are grateful for the union members and activists who over the last nine months exposed the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the proponents and their fraudulent issue, and turned-out working people in massive numbers to protect the principle of one-person, one-vote.

"The resounding defeat of Issue 1 puts the legislative backers and Secretary of State LaRose on notice that the citizens of this state and working people will never relinquish their constitutional right to direct democracy and simple majority rule.

"For the entirety of this year, politicians supporting Issue 1 ignored the will of the people in the legislative process, flip-flopped on their ruling not to hold August special elections, costing tax-payers millions of dollars, and spread misinformation and lies from start to finish. In the end, voters would not be fooled by this unprecedented, corrupt attempt to silence our voice and we said emphatically, "NO."

"As we put this election behind us, we now call on lawmakers to listen to the voters, stop advancing issues that only serve to divide us and get to the business of advancing policies that help all Ohioans fulfill their potential and improve their quality of life.

Thank you to all of the volunteers like you who spent the better part of the summer defending democracy in our great state."

Why unions opposed Issue 1

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Almost every union in Ohio opposes Issue 1 on August 8 and here's why:
  • For more than 110 years, Ohio voters have had the freedom to put Constitutional amendments directly on the ballot with a simple majority.Ohio unions support preserving this sacred principle of one person one vote.
  • Issue 1 is undemocratic, plain and simple! It gives the majority of Ohio voters—40 percent—the ability to block the majority. That’s unfair.
  • Issue 1 undermines the progress unions are working toward, like spurring bipartisan policy for job creation and economic development that helps working families. With so much opportunity in front of us, we believe Issue 1 is unnecessary and divisive. We must push for MORE collaboration and LESS conflict.
  • About a decade ago, extreme politicians in Columbus tried to take away our collective bargaining rights with Senate Bill 5. We defeated them at the ballot box and showed that Ohioans stood for union rights! This year marks 40 years of collective bargaining rights in Ohio. Union members know all about fighting for what’s right in this state, whether at the bargaining table or the ballot box!

Join every union in Ohio and vote NO on August 8 to defeat Issue 1! Learn more and get involved at