If there hadn’t been construction planned for the bridge that crosses over Leslie Run, one of the creeks that runs through the middle of East Palestine, Ohio, Rick Tsai and Randy DeHaven might not have noticed the worst contamination they’d seen in the creek in weeks. A backhoe had hoisted a chunk of earth from the bank of the creek, leaving a pool about eight feet across and deep enough to come up to the knees of Tsai’s rubber fishing waders. What it also left, in Tsai’s words, was an opportunity for a sort of “geological sample” — evidence that oil and chemicals still lingered in the soil and in the creeks six months after a catastrophic derailment.
Nearly one year ago, on the night of February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Videos of the smoke and fire released by the nearly two-mile-long train went viral, and residents in the community reported severe health effects. The rail disaster triggered an outcry: Why did this happen, and what can any of us do about it? Soon, there were articles detailing the alarming state into which the country’s railroads have fallen: accidents are up, and oversight is hard to come by. Plus, there is a severe squeeze on rail workers, many of whom lack sick days of any kind and are effectively always on call.
The student group of Central Ohio Revolutionary Socialists (CORS) has been suspended by Ohio State University. They were notified of the suspension following an event they did on campus entitled “Intifada, Revolution, and the Path for a Free Palestine.” The OSU administration sent a letter December 13 alleging that CORS’ “activities pose a significant risk of substantial harm to the safety or security of your organization’s members, other members of the university community or to university property.” How a meeting to discuss the struggle against a genocidal war by the Zionist state of Israel creates “significant risk of substantial harm” is anyone’s guess.
Cleveland, Ohio - Four people have died inside Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County Jail in 2023 — Nathan Myers in July, Elving Lopez in September, Freddie Tackett in October and most recently Rogelio Cubano on Nov. 16. Myers and Cubano were still in their mid-20s. Lopez was supporting a two-year-old daughter and Tackett had five children and three grandchildren. Myers reportedly suffered a drug overdose, and the other three supposedly died after experiencing a “medical emergency.” However, the Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition issued a statement after Tackett’s death raising the possibility of foul play, calling for an investigation.
Thirty-year-old Rick Savage was among the first workers hired at Ultium Cells’ 2.8-million-square-foot battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio, in April 2022. “I heard about the battery plant and how it was going to be technologically superior to all other manufacturing companies,” Savage remembers thinking. “The future of the automotive industry is going to be electric.” Ultium Cells was a high-profile joint venture between U.S. automaker General Motors and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution. The Lordstown plant — billed as the largest battery plant of its kind anywhere in the country — was predicted to cost some $2.3 billion and generate more than 1,100 new jobs.
It is said that history is written by the winners. But when it comes to big wins by organized labor, the corporate news media, itself fighting unionization at all costs, tends to ignore unions even when they are shaping history. Missing from much of the coverage about Ohio voters’ rejection of the Republican legislature’s attempt to raise the threshold for voter approval needed to amend the state constitution from a simple majority to 60 percent — was the central role organized labor played in mobilizing and helping to defeat the scheme. In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the Republican legislature pushed through some of the nation’s most draconian restrictions on abortion.
The company that manufactured the toxic chemicals that were released and incinerated in the wake of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment this winter gave $2 million to the primary Senate GOP super PAC as bipartisan rail safety legislation stalled in Congress. The manufacturer, Occidental Petroleum, has been lobbying on rail and tank car safety, and its lobbying group, the American Chemistry Council — which also donated $250,000 to the main House GOP super PAC — had pushed for changes weakening the bill in committee. The railroad legislation, introduced in the immediate aftermath of the East Palestine disaster, was once seen as the first real shot at imposing new regulations on the railroad industry in years.
In her eight years as a pediatrician, Dr. Lauren Beene had always stayed out of politics. What happened at the Statehouse had little to do with the children she treated in her Cleveland practice. But after the Supreme Court struck down abortion protections, that all changed. The first Monday after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling was emotional. Beene fielded a call from the mother of a 13-year-old patient. The mother was worried her child might need birth control in case she was the victim of a sexual assault. Beene also talked to a 16-year-old patient unsure about whether to continue her pregnancy. Time wasn’t on her side, Beene told the girl.
Joy Marie Mann was not expecting a large crowd Friday night, but she was heartened that some of her close friends and fellow activists traveled from across the country to meet ahead of a health care rally in Ohio. "They're just very passionate people who are just very caring and support nationally improved 'Medicare for All' and believe in human rights," said Marie Mann, a health care activist from Harrisburg. In between interviews, speeches and a short candlelight vigil, Mann and the other activists at Schenley Park spoke to each other about their plans to attend a "Medicare for All" rally in Lisbon, Ohio.
For his 91st birthday three years ago, Bob Moore, the namesake behind the ubiquitous Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods brand, surprised his employees during a celebration of his 91st birthday. He unveiled an Employee Stock Ownership Plan that, as of April that year, turned his roughly 600 employees into co-op owners of a company that generated more than $50 million in annual sales in 2018. While Bob’s Red Mill might be one of the most high-profile examples of an employee-owned business in the U.S., it’s far from the only one—especially in Ohio. For more than a decade, Co-op Cincy has been working to both create new cooperatively-owned businesses and help current businesses transition to co-op models across the greater Cincinnati area.
Four hundred auto workers have been on strike at vehicle battery manufacturer Clarios since May 8, rejecting two tentative agreements that fell short of their demands. “We’re not asking for the moon, we just want it to be a good place to work,” said Andrew Hoertz, a machine operator, citing the company’s decision to cut the piece rates—the incentives workers get paid per battery produced. The company has pulled out all the stops to prevent any hit to battery production, from stockpiling batteries to weaken workers’ leverage at the negotiating table to shifting production out of this plant, which is near Toledo, Ohio.
It’s been over 100 days since the catastrophic derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying over 100,000 gallons of toxic materials occurred in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb 3. Since then, residents of East Palestine and the surrounding area in Ohio and Pennsylvania have had their lives turned completely upside down. Entire families have been uprooted from their homes, with many having to live in hotels or wherever they can find shelter, unable to return home out of fear of exposure to chemicals that were spilled into the water and soil from the derailment and spewed into the air from Norfolk Southern’s “controlled burn” of the vinyl chloride contained within multiple derailed train cars.
Cleveland, Ohio - On a dead-end street in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood, on 18 acres of land that previously served as an illegal dumping ground, an entire food ecosystem has emerged and thrived under the leadership of local residents. Rid-All Green Partnership started with a single hoop house erected in February of 2011; now acres of farmland support a community kitchen and farmer’s market. All food waste is turned into compost, which supports the farm and is sold across Cleveland. A training program and paid apprenticeships bring community members in, while an aquaponics and hydroponics system generates local jobs. Specialized programs emerged to serve veterans and youth.
Holidays in my childhood were spent at my grandparents’ farm in Plain Grove, Pennsylvania, 35 miles from East Palestine, Ohio. My grandfather’s grandfather fought at Gettysburg and homesteaded the 160-acre farm after the Civil War. My grandmother sold it in the 1960s for $13,000, lacking a male heir to do the work; but my relatives still live in the area. I have therefore taken a keen interest in the toxic chemical disaster that resulted when a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed in East Palestine on Feb. 3, although it is not my usual line of research. The official narrative doesn’t seem to add up. Something else must have been going on, but what?
Environmental and community groups in Ohio have filed a preliminary injunction to stop the leasing of public lands — including state parks — to the oil and gas industry. Ohio HB 507, which redefines methane gas as “green energy” and requires state parks to lease their lands for fracking, went into effect on April 7. Originally an agricultural bill with its focus on poultry, the law was quickly expanded to include granting petrochemical, agricultural and fracking rights to industry. The groups oppose the law on a constitutional basis, in addition to their objection to the obligatory leasing of public lands for fracking, a press release from Earthjustice and the Sierra Club said.