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Protesters a diverse group

Opponents upset with Kasich’s views on fracking, union rights

February 8, 2012
By MARK J. MILLER - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - A varied and diverse group of protesters unhappy with Gov. John Kasich's stand on issues ranging from natural gas fracking to labor union rights let their feelings be known during the governor's State of the State address Tuesday at Steubenville High School.

Shouting slogans such as "We are not Wall Street ... We are Main Street ..." and "Kasich ... Come out ... We've got something to talk about," about 400 protesters congregated at the north side of the school during a peaceful demonstration, while police and security ensured they stayed on the sidewalks.

Frank Burdell, president and business representative for Teamster Local 407, who held a sign that read "Stop the War on Workers," said the Teamsters Union wasn't about to let the governor forget about his support for Senate Bill 5, limiting some state workers' union rights.

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A group of protesters make plans to inturrupt Gov. John Kasich's State of the State address.

We're here to tell him he couldn't hack it," said Burdell of Kasich. "What he did was to unify labor. And an injury to one is an injury to all.

"We're going to follow (Kasich) to let him know," continued Burdell. "It's an absolute war on workers. We're here to let him know it's a war he's not going to win. We're not just willing to step aside and let these (union benefits) go. I come from a union family."

Cheryl Johncox of the Buckeye Forest Council, said she was there to protest the governor's position on gas drilling and handing the state over to the shale gas industry.

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PLANNED PARENTHOOD SUPPORTER — A protester holds a sign in support of Planned Parenthood during Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State Address Tuesday at Steubenville High School. - Mark J. Miller

"We're here because our education (on fracking) is inadequate, as well as work place safety and local control," said Johncox. "Right now the state decides whether drilling and waste disposal (related to fracking) is allowed."

Johncox said she was especially upset about what she called "mandatory pooling," where a shale-drilling company could take over the private property mineral rights through eminent domain. She added local control of such decisions violated the public's right to own their mineral rights.

One small group of Occupy protesters rehearsed a "mic check" to interrupt the governor's speech, although none of them would confirm that was their intention. Kasich's speech was disrupted at one point by protesters inside the auditorium.

Sarah Lowry, a student at Youngstown State University, said she was concerned about Kasich's stand on womens' issues, including support for Planned Parenthood.

"As a young woman who's about to graduate from college, I'm concerned about health care," said Lowry. "Planned parenthood is very important to me because of that."

Lowry said she was especially worried about the future of Planned Parenthood because of some bills pending before lawmakers to de-fund the organization.

"The state has been working on several bills to limit womens' reproductive rights," continued Lowry. "There are other (state) efforts that would have a negative impact on Planned Parenthood. It's important to young people, and the state is making it harder for people and Planned Parenthood."

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