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AFSCME members rally in Columbus as Staff the Front Lines bus visits Ohio

President Saunders addresses the Staff the Front Lines rally in Columbus, Ohio. Photo credit: Nick Voutsinos
AFSCME members rally in Columbus as Staff the Front Lines bus visits Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – AFSCME President Lee Saunders and members from three Ohio affiliates joined elected officials for a rally at the state capital to encourage people to apply for vacant public service positions and to highlight the urgent need to fill these jobs.   

Attending Thursday’s rally at the Staff the Front Lines bus stop were members from Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) and Ohio Council 8. Speakers included Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin, Columbus School Board President Jennifer Adair and State Rep. Jay Edwards.  

From nursing to education to corrections, chronic short staffing is undermining the effective delivery of public services that Ohioans rely on. That’s why AFSCME launched the Staff the Front Lines initiative this year, to partner with elected officials to recruit and retain the essential workers who keep our communities running. In conjunction with the bus tour, the Staff the Front Lines initiative is holding recruitment events in more than 20 cities nationwide this summer. 

Our Staff the Front Lines bus tour has been going around the country for several weeks now. And we’ve come to Columbus to send a simple but critically important message: Public service jobs are available, and applications are being accepted now – in this city, across Ohio, from coast to coast. The ‘Help Wanted’ sign is out,” Saunders said.  

Ginther echoed that message, saying, “The City of Columbus is open for business and we’re hiring because we need to staff the front lines in this city. ... And we know these are great jobs with great benefits.” 

Hardin thanked public service workers for their longstanding sacrifice and dedication.  

“We have all become familiar with the term ‘essential workers’ that became so popular during the pandemic, but the truth is you were all essential workers well before COVID,” Hardin said. “And while we are moving past the pandemic, our support for working people is here to stay.”  
Adair said schools need more workers who are committed to improving the lives of children.  

“In our district, you don’t just staff the front lines. You are impacting the lives of our babies, the children of Columbus every day,” she said. “We need more people just like you: Dedicated public servants who want to make a difference.” 

Edwards invited people to apply for the large number of state openings.  

"We just passed a state operating budget, and we have (sent) hundreds of millions of dollars to our local communities, to our counties, to our school districts,” he said. “So the State of Ohio is open for business. We have thousands of unfilled jobs all over the state, we need you. … This is not just a good-paying job, but a way to give back to your community.” 

Brian Miller, OCSEA Chapter 5110 president and a corrections officer at Marion Correctional Institute, said he has been personally recruiting candidates.  

“Having people like me—a correction officer of more than two decades—do the recruitment is invaluable.  I’m letting people know what it’s like on the ground, so they know what to expect.  That way we get better quality candidates right off the jump,” Miller said. “We went from zero candidates in July to 100 in August. And even statewide we’re seeing larger and larger classes of Officers at the training academy. That’s good news. But we’re not out of the woods yet. And we can’t do it alone. We need members of the public to step up. Come join us.” 

OAPSE President Lois Carson reeled off the needs at Columbus City Schools. 

“I have been a secretary in Columbus City Schools for 37 years,” Carson said. “We need about 4,000 school bus drivers. We need food service workers to serve our babies breakfast and lunch because that may be the only time some of our babies eat. We need aides in our classrooms and on our bus.” 

And Local 1632 President Angela Williams pointed to the stellar benefits that come with her public service job.  

“It led to comprehensive health insurance for my son, who had his physical therapy appointments paid for. And thanks to the paid time off I got with the city, I was able to spend more valuable time with him,” Williams said. “Today, he’s a college graduate and an advocate for the disabled. I am so proud of the man he became.” 

To learn more about AFSCME’s national bus tour, visit  

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