This year, the Central Ohio Worker Center (COWC) made history in Columbus by hosting the most diverse and inclusive May Day celebration to date in a call to "Reclaim Columbus"! For the past four years, COWC has hosted an annual event commemorating International Workers' Day ("May Day") to celebrate collective resistance in the labor movement while voicing the call for justice, dignity, and freedom in Columbus.
COWC united our diverse community on May Day - workers, students, union members, immigrants, people of faith, elderly, children - to host a march in the Ohio State campus area making three stops at local focal points of injustice: Verizon, Wendy's and The Ohio State University.
We began our march up North High Street and staged a picket outside of a Verizon store in support of a nation-wide strike. Over 39,000 unionized cable splicers, line technicians, call operators and others represented by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) have been on strike for a number of weeks. Workers are standing up against Verizon’s corporate greed as Verizon threatens to ship jobs overseas, transfer workers away from their homes, close down call centers, and cut health and pension plans.
The march then continued until we came across the Wendy's located at High & Woodruff to support the Wendy's Boycott. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) – a farmworker organization representing tens of thousands of workers – has declared a nation-wide boycott on Dublin-based Wendy’s. For three years Wendy’s has refused to join the “Fair Food Program” - a social responsibility program that successfully addresses farmworker exploitation. All of Wendy’s major competitors in the fast-food industry – McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell and Chipotle – have already joined the Fair Food Program.
The march then turned took focus on The Ohio State University, where a coalition of student organizations called #ReclaimOSU formed to demand meaningful changes at Ohio State. Students organizing with campus workers against privatization, for minority student enrollment, changes in campus food systems, and divestment corporations occupying Palestine have been consistently denied and silenced by administration. Students united to “Reclaim OSU” as a space where their voices will be heard. COWC was inspired by this bold action taken by students which in turn became the rallying cry of "Reclaim Columbus" as we know that low-wage workers and immigrants face this same voicelessness which we seek to change.
As every year, we concluded the action with reflection, celebration, and food.
Every year May Day evolves, grows, and brings more of our diverse community together. This year we made history by uniting three campaigns - the Verizon Strike, Wendy's Boycott, and #ReclaimOSU - in one powerful action that grew community and solidarity in Columbus. We are humbled and grateful to be a part of this growing community focused on freedom, justice, and dignity for all in Columbus, Ohio.