27 April 2014

On Monday, State Representative Mike Foley joined about 75 Columbus security officers, janitors, and community members for a rally outside the Motorists Mutual Insurance building downtown. Workers, faith leaders, and elected officials called on business leaders of Columbus to support the good jobs our city needs to stanch the rapidly rising poverty rate.


As the unemployment rate in Central Ohio continues to drop, concentrated poverty in our city has doubled. This is because more and more jobs in Columbus pay very low wages that trap working families in a cycle of poverty. Janitors and security officers—who clean and protect the offices of Motorists Mutual and Columbus’s Fortune 1000 companies—are among the thousands of working people in our city who can work full time and still qualify for public assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid.


Low-wage workers in Columbus have been standing up for living wages, health care and fair treatment on the job. But janitors and security officers have met with resistance and retaliation for their efforts, including at Motorists Insurance, where a Universal security officer was removed and reassigned to a lower-paying job after speaking out about working conditions.


“I’m committed to my job, but it’s hard to get by on low wages with no benefits,” says Thurman Elliot, a full-time officer employed by Universal Security in Columbus. “My wife is sick, and because I don’t have affordable health care for myself or for her through my job, we both have to rely on Medicare.”


Service workers and community members are calling on Columbus corporations and the Columbus Partnership to do their part to alleviate poverty in our city and create a more sustainable future by creating good jobs and paying workers fair wages. The Columbus City Council has already expressed support for living wage jobs for service workers in an open letter addressed to Columbus business leaders.