"It's a great day to fight for working families," thundered Ohio AFL-CIO President Joe Rugola, to the cheers of hundreds at the March for Jobs in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday. "It's snowing here and they're sitting up there in Wall St., nice and warm. But I'll tell you, it's going to get a whole lot hotter there, as we organize and fight for jobs and security for working families here in America!"
"Hey, hey, ho, ho, Wall St. greed's gotta go," "People's needs, not Wall St. greed," and "We need JOBS, now," echoed off buildings in downtown Columbus, as hundreds braved the latest snowstorm to march to the Ohio State Capital building, calling for jobs and relief for working families.
"I came to the march to fight for jobs, for me, but especially for our families," said unemployed sheet metal worker Mary Young. "I've worked four months in the last two years, and had to go to Tennessee to even get part time work," she said. "It's ridiculous! These billionaires just take more and more and more from working folks. Even when they hire a few, they won't hire the women," she said.
The Columbus March for Jobs is expected to be just the first of many, according to Working America Director Dan Heck. "We're working with others, building committees to work for jobs," he said, but we felt we just had to begin to go public. People are mad, and they should be. We just felt like we'd start the ball rolling."
The jobs march was sponsored by Working America, Ohio and Columbus AFL-CIO bodies, Progress Ohio, SOAR and Jobs with Justice. These groups are part of the core forces that are setting up a Jobs for America Now Organizing Committee in Columbus.
"Don't believe them when they tell you it's about government spending, its not. It is about corporate greed, plain and simple," shouted State Rep Dan Stewart, to loud cheers. "We have millions out of work, people are suffering," he said, "but CEOs now are averaging over 400 times the pay of workers. Billionaires are bailed out, but our people starve! The five biggest insurance companies made $12 billion in profits this year. They didn't make that providing health care to people, they did it my denying health care to people, throwing people off of health care coverage. This must end! We need good jobs & health care for our people again!"
Marie Fetters is a township trustee from rural Wayne County, but drove through the snow to participate in the march at the state capital. "Wayne County is farm country," she said, "but we're not immune. They just closed the DHC plant, throwing hundreds out of work. We need jobs, too!"
Tim Burga, operations director of the Ohio AFL-CIO, was introduced as "our local celebrity," after right-wing talk show jock Rush Limbaugh had recently attacked him as a "union thug" on his national program.
"Rush certainly appears to be worried about what we're doing here, and he damned well ought to be. It's the corporate thieves that pay his way that we're going after," Burga said, to the cheers of the crowd. "They're getting richer and our people are without work or aid. We're here to demand Good Jobs Now!"
Two young African American men were dressed in dark suits, passing out materials along the march. I first thought they may be with the Nation of Islam, but noticed they carried Monopoly games and were passing out Monopoly money.
"We just felt like it's Monopoly money to the big CEOs," said Stan Osei-Bonsu. "We've lost over a quarter of all manufacturing jobs in our entire nation, but the CEO of Lehman Brothers takes home $484 million. Man, that's obscene! That's Monopoly money!"
"We need real jobs, not make believe money and make believe jobs," Jihad Seifullah chimed in. "They keep talking about education, training, like that is supposed to bring in jobs. I'm trained! I'm educated," he said, "but we need real jobs!"