‘Raise minimum wage, no food stamp cuts’

Labor and community activists marched through the Near West Side neighborhood of Cleveland on April 12, protesting against recent cuts in food stamps and unemployment benefits and for raising the minimum wage.

People came out of their homes and workplaces, giving a thumbs up and joining the chanting. The march and rally were organized by the locally based “No Cuts Coalition.”

Chants included “Make some noise, cause some trouble! Minimum wage! Make it double!” and “No ifs, ands or buts! No unemployment cuts!”

Greg Coleridge, director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, gave welcoming remarks before the march. Harriet Applegate, executive secretary of the North Shore Labor Federation, chaired the post-march rally. Pam Rosado, outreach coordinator of Policy Matters Ohio, explained the punishing actions that Ohio Gov. John Kasich had taken against poor Ohioans.

Ohio was one of the economically distressed states that the federal government agreed could waive work requirements for food stamp recipients, but Kasich opted to decline the waiver — with the exception of 16 predominantly white rural counties.

Chris Erickson, recording secretary of Utility Workers Union of America Local 270, spoke in favor of a $15-an-hour minimum wage and for organizing strong unions and winning good contracts as a way to secure a living wage. He pointed out that one in six U.S. workers makes less than $10.10 an hour now.