While May Day is not an official national holiday, celebrations are becoming increasingly popular in the United States in response to economic inequality. On Thursday evening, about 125 members of the community coalition Central Ohio Workers celebrated International Workers' Day with a march through downtown Columbus and the rallying cry, "Ohio Needs a Raise!"
"Today we gather here in downtown Columbus in solidarity with workers the world over," said Jennie Scheinbach of Pattycake Bakery, a worker-owned co-op in Columbus. "Not just for economic justice, but also for climate justice. Multinational energy corporations and the legislators they've bought are responsible for environmental catastrophes that impact workers and communities everywhere."
"We need a raise," said Alfreda Pridgen, a janitor and member of Service Employees' International Union (SEIU) Local 1. "We're going to stay out here and fight until they do it!"
"We have a common bond across this world, and an intersection of universal interests as we all fight to keep our heads above water in an unjust economy," said Verbz Vegas of the International Socialist Organization. "The more we realize these global bonds, the more we can understand our true power. This world only functions because of the work of people like us."
"Having a living wage means that I wouldn't have to borrow money when my car breaks down and I can't afford to get it fixed," said Sherry, a janitor at the Franklin County courthouse. "I wouldn't have to force myself to go to work when I'm sick because missing one day is not in my budget."
The protesters marched along several downtown streets and ended at the Ohio Education Association building, where they shared a meal and heard from speakers about the history of May Day and current efforts to support workers' rights in Columbus, including plans under way to open a Central Ohio Worker Center. Other participating organizations included the Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio, Ohio Fair Food, Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio Student Association, CWA Local 4501, Jobs With Justice, 15 Now – Columbus, and Move to Amend – Central Ohio.