AFSC staff, supporters, and volunteers were among the nearly 500 participants in the rally at the State House in Columbus. Teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public service employees joined with students, environmentalists and other Ohioans on Saturday, February 26, to support maintaining collective bargaining rights.
For weeks, organizers have rallied against passage of Senate Bill 5, which would abolish the collective bargaining rights of state employees. AFSC’s Greg Coleridge was one of a dozen speakers, explaining how some officials are using the state’s $8 billion budget deficit to try to eliminate the power of people in public unions to bargain collectively.
In Greg’s remarks, he noted the link between the immediate threat to collective bargaining with the larger issue of corporations wielding political power to influence elections and govern. Referring to a new Wisconsin campaign that calls for greater election integrity and an end to corporate personhood, “I urged [participants] to consider developing a similar platform in Ohio and to support the national effort to abolish corporate constitutional rights,” Greg said.
Longtime AFSC partners in attendance included Friends from Athens, student organizers and social workers from Columbus.
Also attending were brother and sister, Margo Kernan and Charlie Koester of Akron, whose mother Margie Koester, member of the Akron Friends Meeting, recently passed away. Margie was a longtime AFSC volunteer who rarely missed an AFSC organized or supported march and rally for peace or justice in Akron or DC. In small but noticeable letters on the edges of their “Defeat Issue 5” signs were written “Hi Mom!” “We’re here because of the issue but also because of her,” they said. “She’s here today in spirit.”
A march circling the state capitol occurred after the rally. Passers-by and drivers in passing cars showed their support with thumbs-up and a din of honking horns.