Worker Rally Eclipses Koch Brothers Funded Anti-Worker Conference

On August 21st, thousands of working men and women came together at McFerson Commons in the Arena District of downtown Columbus.

The crowd listened to a number of speakers talking about the importance of the American Dream, and how it is workers, not billionaires and profiteers that create and sustain it. One of those speakers was retired school teacher, Mary Binegar.

Here's her prepared remarks

As an educator in the public school system for 33 years, I am proud of the contributions that public employees make every day to better the lives of those who live and work in our communities.

Public education has been a center piece for all Americans in creating opportunities to learn, grow, find work and have a shot at the American Dream.

We need to invest in our public schools and our public services. However, Americans for Prosperity’s idea of the American Dream is to devalue public education and privatize our most valued public services and assets.

We have seen firsthand here in Ohio the dramatic lack of accountability when education is privatized -- profits, not education become the priority.

The American Dream is achieved by putting students first, not profits — by making access to a quality public education available to all by investing in it rather than taking money out of it and giving it to profiteers.

Ohio’s students deserve great public schools whether they are “traditional” schools or taxpayer-funded charter schools. Unfortunately, too many students in Ohio are being ill-served by the large number of poor-performing charter schools. These charter schools take away scarce public tax dollars from traditional public schools attended by the vast majority of Ohio’s students

Many charter schools offer a false choice to parents who are told their student can go to a charter school but they do not realize that the charter school performs much worse academically than the public school where the student came from. I have seen far too many students return to their home school far behind in their courses after several months in a charter school.

In fact, many charter school educators in Ohio are seeking union representation because they want to have a voice in providing an excellent, safe, and nurturing learning environment where students will reach their full potential.

Now, as a retired teacher, and not part of the Social Security system, I have earned and depend on a defined pension and health care benefits to make ends meet and have dignity in retirement.

Americans for Prosperity have actively campaigned to take away retirement security for public employees. How is taking away earned pension and health care the American Dream?

We’re better than this. It’s time that all working people speak up together and challenge the corporate ceo’s and their agenda to divide workers, and devalue the work that we do.

Together, we can move our agenda to raise wages, put family first and retire with dignity. This is the American Dream and I’m here to defend it.

The gathering then marched to the Convention center to demonstrate in front of the Koch Brothers conference attendees.