Mar 8, 2011
Good jobs and strong communities go hand in hand.
That’s the message of Ohio’s new and growing coalition, “Stand Up for Good Jobs and Strong Communities.”
|CWA Members rallied with thousands of other union members and allies in cities across Ohio, including Dayton, above, and outside the state capitol, below, in Columbus, Oh.|
Spearheaded by CWA District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen, the coalition’s unions, civil rights organizations, neighborhood groups and other allies are fighting to protect workers, jobs and their communities before politicians finish what the recession started.
“Elected leaders are attacking workers, public sector budgets, civil rights and more,” Rosen said. “But what they’re really attacking are good jobs and decent communities. I want a community where the garbage gets picked up, where the teachers are competent, where police aren’t spread too thin to respond when you need them.”
Rosen said the coalition will use its collective, grassroots power to help fight each other’s battles. The goal is to organize major street demonstrations throughout the state at least three times in the next six months, beginning with a series of events March 15.
“The politicians have a strategy of divide and conquer,” Rosen said. “Our strategy is unite and win.”
Solidarity on Display
In a mass display of unity, thousands of workers each day jammed into Ohio’s statehouse and the outside capitol grounds for weeks beginning in mid-February as the Senate held hearings on a bill that would take away collective bargaining rights for 35,000 state workers and 20,000 university employees. On Feb. 22, some 15,000 workers and supporters were on the capitol grounds ready to testify, but public safety officials temporarily barred them from the Capitol and the hearing. Security finally relented and admitted about 1,000 workers’ rights supporters so their voices could be heard.
Rallies continued throughout the state, with public and private sector workers joining forces in Dayton, Cincinnati, Marietta and other communities.
|CWA Members and other allies rallied outside of the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.|
Another huge rally on March 1 brought 20,000 to the state capitol.
The vote had not yet been scheduled as the CWA News went to press.
It was clear that efforts to pit workers against each other weren’t going to work. “It’s just the opposite, everybody’s united,” said Diane Bailey, vice president of CWA Local 4310. “We’re all coming out and supporting each other.”
Pushed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature, the right-wing agenda includes a direct attack on 6,000 CWA members working at Ohio’s universities and 1,000 more in other public sector jobs.
In addition to eliminating bargaining rights for state and university workers, Kasich wants to ban teacher strikes and kill rules requiring that contractors on public projects pay prevailing community wages.
Kasich’s plans also include privatizing the Ohio Department of Development, “turning it over to some hedge fund manager from California,” Rosen said.
Those are some of the issues Stand Up for Ohio will address, and then build on. Kirk Noden, head of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, explains that concerned Ohioans have been working for several years to form bonds that won’t disintegrate once a specific fight is over.
“What we’ve set out to do is create a permanent alliance between neighbors, faith and labor, where we’re really starting to think about long-term change in the state,” Noden said.
Rosen said Stand Up for Ohio is “going to connect the dots and bring all of our fights together. This isn’t just about public workers or rights that directly affect unions. It’s about people having good lives, with good jobs and strong communities.”