People outside striking with signs

Yesterday, March 22, was a big day for labor in Columbus. Striking Starbucks workers shut down two locations, unions crowded two Statehouse hearings, and Wex Arts workers won their union, a struggle that took over two years.

Starbucks Strike

Two Starbucks locations in Columbus—1784 N High at OSU and 88 E Broad downtown—joined the nationwide one day strike demanding an end to the company’s union-busting campaign. Picketers at the N High location on OSU’s campus convinced many would-be customers to not cross the picket line, resulting in a backlog of refunded online orders that sat untouched inside. The OSU Starbucks drove in managers across the state to staff the location. Managers harassed and called the cops on picketers, the police communicating that picketers weren’t breaking any laws. The location closed down midday. The downtown location at 88 E Broad didn’t even attempt to open their doors when workers went on strike. Although both locations successfully unionized their stores, neither has gotten a contract as the company refuses to bargain in good faith.

Unions take on the State Legislature

Union workers from across Ohio joined the community-based coalition We Are Ohio at the Statehouse to voice their opposition to two controversial proposed bills, Senate Bill 83 and House Joint Resolution 1.

Protestors filled three separate overflow rooms as the hearings took place. HJR1 would require at least 60% of the electors to approve any constitutional amendment and make it harder for community initiatives to petition to propose amendments. SB 83 would limit public employees’ right to strike and censor what can be taught at universities, specifically in regards to diversity and China.

Attendees later joined the 88 E Broad Street Starbucks strike, videos circulating online show protestors chanting alongside demonstrators.

Wex Arts Workers Win Fight Against OSU to Unionize

Wex Workers United, the Wexner Center for the Arts’ workers union, consisting of 29 workers, unanimously won their vote to become a union on Wednesday.

The victory comes a year after Wex Workers United and its affiliate union AFSCME Ohio Council 8 initially asked the Ohio State University for voluntary recognition.

In that year, Ohio State retained a law firm, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, to oversee negotiations. The law firm is best known for its attempted suit against the State of Pennsylvania to overturn the state’s election results in 2020. Porter Wright Morris & Arthur has a firm anti-union stance, listing on their website that they serve to “recognize and react appropriately to early signs of organizing” and “make union organizing less likely.”

Other victories and actions took place this week. Workers at Worthington Public Libraries were still celebrating the ratification of their first contract since unionizing in 2021, which took place Tuesday.

It was an oddly high amount of union activity for a Wednesday, but it reflects a wider spike in labor organizing both locally and nationally in recent years. The cruel treatment of workers by large corporations and politicians influenced by the same corporations has fueled a new wave of radical labor actions. As long as corporate abuse continues unchecked, Wednesdays like yesterday could become the new norm.