·  by Bruce Bostick, SOAR Executive Board Member, District 1

District 1 SOAR Rally for Workers’ Rights

“The Koch Brothers announced that they will spend $900 million to push their agenda attacking working people in this upcoming election. That is obscene!”

“But without YOU,” Rev. Susan Smith (Poor People’s Campaign and Crazy Faith Ministers) told the thousands of union supporters at the Columbus, Ohio Rally for Working People’s Rights at the Ohio statehouse, that “there would be NO buses, there would be NO restaurants, there’d be NO schools, NO hotels, NO electricity. Without YOU, there would be NO nation!”

Part of a series of union-led rallies, an estimated 3,500 unionists and supporters braved a constant downpour of rain to rally at the Ohio statehouse on Saturday, February 24, standing up for worker’s rights, just two days prior to when the Supreme Court would hear the anti-union Janus vs. AFCSME case. 

The Ohio rally was one of at least 24 union-led demonstrations against the push by corporate/Republican efforts to wipe out worker’s collective bargaining rights. The Janus case, the danger of which moved the labor movement to reach out to allies, called for a National Day of Action.

Some other cities holding similar demonstrations include New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia and Duncanville, PA,  Memphis, Miami, San Deigo, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Buffalo, Louisville, Las Vegas, Madison, Wisconsin,  Orlando, St. Louis,  St. Paul, Minn.,  Detroit,  Elizabeth, NJ,   Houston,  Boyertown and Erie, PA,  and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Janus Case coming before the Supreme Court would wipe out “fair share” payments required of public workers, to pay for union services, required currently. Presently, all public workers are not required to  pay dues, but unions collect “fair share” payments to off-set the federal requirement that the union represent workers who do not pay dues. Officials with organized labor have stated that a negative ruling would cripple our nation’s labor movement.

“Like other teachers, I teach to make a difference,” stated Gina Daniels, Pataskala, Ohio history teacher. “I don’t do it for the glamour of chalk dust under my nails, the thrill of lunch duty. Teacher Unions fight for smaller classroom sizes, a good education for all kids, to limit the toxic effect of mandatory testing on students and to support all students, their families and our communities. Obstacles seem insurmountable now, but together with our Union, teachers are making great changes to help our students and the whole educational system.”

While teachers, public workers, were the bulk of the attendees, workers from other sectors mobilized to help, as well.

“When the corporations came after us, public workers were there for us,” said Jimmie Reed, Sr., President of SOAR Chapter 1-979 in Cleveland. “We organized busloads because it takes unity to defeat these attacks.  Together, unity, we will beat off all these attacks on all our unions!”

Ohio’s unions beat back a legislative assault similar to the ‘Janus case assault in 2011, organizing a massive campaign with allies that repealed the attacks on union/worker rights. That successful union struggle is a specter hanging over heads of, frightening, pro-corporate politicians in this state.

“We are building our struggle, and you can see the Republicans, corporate folks, getting scared every time you bring up having another “Issue 2 fight,” said Glen Skeen, Vice President, CWA Local 4320. “We were there for the public workers in their fight and they were there for us in our contract fight. When we stand together we can’t be beaten!”

“Ohio’s retirees are coming together, building coalitions, fighting against attempts to destroy retiree security and getting ready for this year’s important election,” stated Norm Wernet, President of the Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA).

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