James Hoffa rallies against SB5 in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The nation's most famous union leader was in the Cincinnati on Tuesday. He urged hundreds of union workers from around the Tri-State to repeal Issue Two.

James Hoffa, the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, delivered remarks to nearly a thousand union members and opponents of Senate Bill 5. Workers from UFCW Local 75 organized the event.

Hoffa declared the debate on the issue a war. He spoke to the crowd for a few minutes on Tuesday evening in front of the Teamsters 100 headquarters in Evendale.

In the past, Hoffa has said SB5 would lead to layoffs, cut wages, and even ship some jobs overseas.

"They're coming after us," said Hoffa. "This is about getting rid of the middle class. This is about lowering the wages of average people who have fought and worked hard to make Ohio what it is."

Some local republicans insist that's not the case. Governor John Kasich has said he's on the side of taxpayers.

Local Republicans, such as Chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party Alex Triantafilou, agree. Triantafilou said supporters of SB5 do want first responders and public workers to keep their jobs, but someone needs to hold them accountable.

"It worries me for the future of our democracy," said Triantafilou. "I think we have a government that's taken an important and courageous step to say we've got to reign in what's been occurring, and if we don't reign in what's happening in local governments, and have an adult conversation about what we can afford, I think the state and the country is in trouble."

Another point of debate? Public employees paying for health care costs and pensions. SB5 would force all public employees to pay at least 15-percent of their health care benefits and 10-percent towards pensions. Gov. Kasich has said that change is necessary since unions do not want to contribute anything.

Cincinnati Firefighter Doug Stern said that's a lie.

"We didn't come to the table and say we didn't want to pay our pensions," said Stern. "We aren't negotiating things that aren't good for our cities."

The latest Quinnipiac Poll showed the majority of voters want to repeal SB5. In all, 51 percent of registered voters who were questioned said they'd vote to kill the law, while 38 percent said they want to keep it.

Voters will decide the issue on Tuesday, November 8th.

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