On Tuesday, January 30th, 2018 a growing working class-driven organization which serves as the community partner of the AFL-CIO launched its chapter in Licking County, Ohio. It was a fairly productive meeting featuring a number of the county’s activists. After it was all said and done, a second meeting was set to come some time later this month.
Here are a few highlights from that initial meeting:
- Attendees were asked to fill out a card listing the three most important issues for them. A number of participants named “addiction”, “equality”, and “justice reform” (specifically inspired by a desire to see some attention given to the very legitimate concerns of Black Lives Matter). There was general consensus that we needed to address healthcare (an argument for single-payer was made with no apparent opposition), lack of living wages, and the most unifying theme seemed to be a need for a greater emphasis on the issue of education.
- The hosts (one is the chief organizer from the Franklin County chapter, named Corissa, and the other was a trainee from California who happened to have an inspiring story being a DACA recipient while bravely advocating in door-to-door canvassing for the working class) introduced the group to Working America’s background, noting that much of their work is done through grassroots organizing and regular canvassing while also helping to set up actions meant to help make the voice of the working class heard.
- The group was fielded for ideas on some actions that we can take and/or some issues that we can focus on initially: a. right off the bat the issue of poverty emerged and a reference was made to the work of the “Newark Think Tank on Poverty”, b. we also highlighted the re-emerging debate on transportation and the role played by “Transport Licking County”, c. some extensive conversation referenced the success of the approximate 250-people turnout for the first annual Women’s March in Newark and the plans underway for the sequel in 2019, d. the dual and connected issues of Healthcare and addiction came up alongside the lack of education around it and how it is impacting even our schools, e. we covered – at length – the vital debate over homelessness and how it is directly impacted by the lack of affordable housing as well as a deficit of awareness on renter’s rights and the insufficient protections which exist for renters, f. we noted the unyielding right-wing pursuit of “Right to Work” legislation to attack unions and how we need to organize and educate against the coming onslaught, g. the thread of “JOBS JOBS JOBS” was circled back through all of the above needles with the need to underscore the poor quality and dangerous unpredictability of jobs currently available (special emphasis on Licking County’s dominance by low wages, temp services, and part-time work), h. and, finally, we repeatedly expressed the need to help the community reconnect with one another to recognize that we – as individuals – are powerless to confront these challenges, but as a unit we can achieve the change we desire.
Very much looking forward to what comes out of this and hope that the newest chapter of Working America can become a permanent partner with the Licking County Progressives, maybe as another nonpartisan (er, “trans-partisan”) subgroup.