find a voice

the truth is revolutionary

we will not fear our voices


we have power, built of each other

learning through action

confronting the world’s disparities

I - Will - Be - There

finding our skin

reaching beyond now to enact


gain power/ lose ignorance

expose and erase

our hate

our racism

our sexism

our heterosexism

injustice is our reality, but not our master

we reinvent union

Jobs with Justice

In the rich tapestry of our young adult lives, we have added another thread -- the one that ties us, the youth, with labor, community, and the environment in the struggle against injustice.

Very fine words, you say, but what do they mean?

Well, being adventurous sorts, a group of Columbus activists including students Sheri Davis, Sonya Huber, Alice Chen, Zakiyyah Jackson, Andre Banks, Susan Freeman, Mary Beth Tchantz, Lori Andrews and this author, as well as three anonymous CWA workers traveled to Dartmouth, Massachusetts for the annual Jobs with Justice conference. We drove fourteen hours, over to and up the coast till the bumper stickers shouted messages of equality and turned left.

Once there, we encountered masses of humanity milling about looking different, speaking different, but all there for the same thing -- unity in the battle for workers’ rights.

The conference kicked off right as we arrived at 9am with a student-labor pre-conference in which a panel of students hailing from the University of Tennessee to Earlham College spoke about the success with their own campaigns.

OSU graduate Andre Banks and student Zakiyyah Jackson spoke out about the CWA worker’s struggle at OSU. They told about how the students of the campus and the CWA union pulled together to fight and win the two dollar a year raise for CWA workers. As the panelists were unable to go into the strategies they used to achieve these successes while on the panel, it was very helpful to have “Issue Based Break-out Strategy Discussions.” During these sessions, students, labor, and community activists all sat down together to banter back and forth, giving and taking information and inspiration on issues such as code of conduct battles, anti-sweatshop struggles, living wage campaigns, and supporting worker struggles on or near campus. Afterward with lunch in our bellies and the cool Massachusetts sun at our backs, everyone loaded into several buses to participate in a solidarity action with local AT&T workers in their struggle to defend their jobs and organizing rights. The energy levels were high as 700 JwJers and 100 AT&T workers gathered outside the building. The following day the New Bedford Standard-Times printed a photo of one of the OSU CWA workers microphone in hand “showing support.”

Back at Dartmouth with all the focusing that we had done that day on labor issues, it was a good release to enjoy the more cultural side of activism. Enthralled by poet Everett Hoagland’s own work and his readings of Frederick Douglas, the youth dance group Quisqueya in Action and the radical hip-hop group Busta Fro, the performances were a beautiful blend of ideals, art, and activism.

The next day all in our group decided to split up and attend the different workshops offered. Topics varied from contingent workers, immigrant community organizing, fighting racism, challenging corporate globalization, saving affirmative action, ending police brutality, labor and the environment, fighting for the right to organize, welfare/workfare justice and more.

Sonya Huber attended the workshop on starting a Jobs with Justice coalition in your own city. She came back aglow with information to share on networking, and the “persistence and tenacity” it takes to make a JwJ chapter a success.

In the afternoon, we attended another workshop. With topics like the living wage movement, how to end corporate welfare, stopping sweatshops, health care for all, winning strikes, closing America’s racial wealth divide, and solidarity across borders, most of us were like kids in the candy store about which workshop to attend.

That evening after the solidarity barbecue, an open mic was held. Art and Revolution member, Alice Chen pulled a few OSU students together to perform the spoken word piece used during the CWA strike. Then a few students with whom we had begun friendships joined in to create a spoken word piece about the ideals and goals behind Jobs with Justice.

Once on stage, we were a hit! The beauty of individuals unifying to express themselves so provocatively was moving for everyone -- audience and participants.

Sunday after the inspirational interfaith service, we attended one last plenary on student-labor solidarity during which Andre Banks and an OSU CWA worker spoke out on the struggle of students and workers at OSU to come together and achieve a victory. They also talked about those issues that had to be dealt with internally such as consensus building, racism, sexism, and heterosexism in order to be able to unify into force necessary to make the CWA strike a success.

Sheri Davis hit the emotional impact of the conference on the head saying, “it was an amazing feeling to have such a large delegation and to be constantly featured on panels to talk about the OSU 2000 strike. We were able to share the good and bad, and I believe we walked away with a better understanding of what actually happened, and what the ‘victory’ means in the larger scheme of things.”

Well it was a long drive, and people had to be at work early Monday morning . . . so unfortunately we had to skip the beach party that ended the conference. However, the beautiful New York sunset, accompanied with the sweet sounds of favorite show tunes harmonized together by a van full of activists, while dodging this pot hole or that crazy driver, made up for the loss, ten-fold.

And, of course thanks to all those people who made the trip possible. Some of those people include: Mike Moses, the lawyer for CWA, Gary Josephsen, representative of CWA, various anonymous members of the local 4501, Larry Williamson, Director of the Hale Black Cultural Center, and Treston Faulkner, Co-ordinator of S.L.A.P. (Student Labor Action Project).

To inquire about Jobs with Justice, contact the Columbus Network is a collective network to strengthen solidarity between labor, community, and students with emphasis on issues of social and economic justice. Our scope is broad because we recognize the interreladtedness of these issues and also recognize and require a critical self-evaluation of living in a flawed society. Contact Info: P.O. Box 82483, Columbus, Ohio 43202 Email:, Temporary phone contact: 614-252-9255.

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