Protesters gathered in the rain Monday afternoon at the corner of 15th Avenue and High Street to speak out against legislation, including Senate Bill 5.
The organization Working America is a community affiliate of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). The protest on campus was one of nearly 1,000 rallies taking place across the nation on or near April 4, according to their website. The protesters raised signs reading, “We Are One,” and encouraged drivers to honk in support of working families.
Monday’s date marked the 43rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The civil rights activist was killed in 1968.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. stood up for the same rights that are under attack today,” said Jihad Seifullah, Working America organizer. “Senate Bill 5 and other legislation takes those rights away from working families in states such as Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.”
Keith Mullings, a second-year in theater and communication at Columbus State, was one of the protesters standing in the rain.
“We are fighting for the rights of all working families in the state of Ohio,” he said. “It’s a bill that’s pretty much taking away from the middle class. It’s taking away their basic right to survival.”
Social worker Ken Andrews said he is an avid supporter of unions. His daughter is a first-year in nursing at Ohio State and he said he fears for the future under current leadership.
“If we don’t do something about the governor, we’ll all be in a frying pan together,” Andrews said.
Organizers encouraged pedestrians to sign a form supporting Working America.
William Helbling, a second-year in political science and English at OSU, said he signed the form because Senate Bill 5 is wrong.
“I believe in our nation and our state,” he said. “Everyone should have rights in the work place and have a say, no matter if you’re high or low in the company.”
But not every student fully understood the organization and their form, even if they signed it.
“They said it’s for Martin Luther King’s birthday, but I recognize the sign from the union thing,” said Matt Chastang, a second-year in microbiology.
Seifullah said although the organization was not specifically targeting Senate Bill 5, the opposition from the bill has led to more people’s wanting to be involved,
“We’ll be here until 3 p.m.,” Seifullah said. “The rain won’t stop us.”