Laid off Ormet steelworkers and their family members traveled to Columbus on Wednesday to hand-deliver petitions with 10,000 signatures in an attempt to save jobs at the plant.
The group started out with a rally at the union hall in Clarington, and gathered up a group of what looked like brightly colored Christmas packages. Inside the boxes were petitions with 10,000 signatures.
They carefully chose the people to go in the van, with someone representing each demographic, a retiree, a worker close to retirement, a single female worker, and a young family just starting out.
It was a small group representing a large group, still fighting to reopen the plant.
"I'm not going today but I'll be there in spirit," said Bill Brown, a 36-year employee. "I'm hoping the governor sees them. I'm hoping he understands how important this place is to our community."
Five hours later, they were in Columbus.
At the governor's office, they were forced to unwrap their packages for security reasons, before giving the petitions to the governor.
And it was not the governor, but some top aides, who met with them.
But in the end, the Ormet contingent was cautiously optimistic.
"I think it went well," said Brian Howell, an Ormet employee who went with his wife and two children. "They got a better understanding of what's going on. Some issues got cleared up. I think both sides really know what's going on now."
"I think we had a good meeting with the governor's office," said Donnie Blatt, USW District 1 rapid response coordinator. "We wanted to bring up the different demographic of folks out of the plant so they understand that there's a human element here. I think we've accomplished that. Everybody got to talk about how it was going to affect them individually. And that's what we wanted them to know. Sometimes they lose sight of that."
They parted with one final message: "We'll be back," they said. "This isn't the last you'll see of Ormet."