YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Over 2500 workers showed up in Niles Ohio for the first stop in a 500-mile march against plant closings led by Ohio AFL-CIO leader, Joe Rugola. The rally was held at McManamy’s Banquet hall on Sunday, October 5th. The marchers, joined by local labor leaders and elected officials followed, a 15-mile course alongside closed down factories in the cities of Youngstown and Warren Ohio.

The march began at the shuttered General Electric Lamp Plant on Meridian Road on Youngstown’s west side and continued to Indalex Aluminum plant in Girard Ohio where 400 union jobs were recently lost.

The Ohio AFL-CIO says over 1,098 factories have closed in the midwestern state since George Bush took office.

Ohio governor Ted Strickland, according to the Warren Tribune, spoke directly to issue of overcoming hang-ups in the election: “If you’re going down the river without a life jacket and there’s a man standing on the bank, you don’t care if he’s black, white, purple or green. You only care if he’s got a strong arm to pull you out. Barack Obama has a strong arm, and he will pull us out of the mess the Republicans have created over the past eight years.”

Obama is now leading McCain by seven points in Ohio, with many voters still undecided.

The unity theme was picked up on from another angle by Jim Graham head of the UAW local at Lordstown, Ohio. The Warren Tribune’s Marly Kosinski quoted him as saying, “Democrats helped put Republicans in the White House four years ago because there’s not enough Republicans to do it. Democrats helped give George Bush the edge in 2004, but not this time. This time, we are a united party and we are going to put a Democrat back in charge.”

There are over 730,000 union workers in Ohio about 14 percent of the state’s labor force.

John Russo, of Youngtown State University’s Labor Studies Department in an article in Sunday’s Youngtown Vindicator pointed to the emphasis on internal organizing and worker to worker contacts by the labor movement, a point emphasized by Richard Trumka secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO in a recent visit to the Youngtown area.

The rally ended at Amweld Steel in Warren Ohio.