City Workers Part of Tornado Response Team

When the first tornado of the season struck Grove City, members of AFSCME Local 1116 were on the job after the storm’s 105 mph winds tore a 2.6-mile strip through the city of 40,000 southwest of Columbus.

“There was no shortage of city workers in the Service Department who volunteered to help. Our crews jumped in and cleared fallen trees, blocked off streets, and replaced traffic signs so utility company crews could safely set to work getting the power back on,” said AFSCME 1116 Local President Sean Gabriel. 

The April 3rd storm hit the city at around 5:30 p.m. and tore off roofs, downed trees, and damaged more than 30 utility poles which knocked out power to 8,500 Grove City-area residents. 

Several people were stuck on city streets because live power lines were in contact with their vehicles. The last was freed after more than five hours after the tornado struck.

“Everyone in the Service Department had a job to do including our members in the Parks and Recreation who joined in the tree and debris cleanup work. It just shows that AFSCME members “Never Quit,” Gabriel said.

March 23, 2018 Federal Legislative Report

Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Finalized

Congress wrapped up funding decisions for fiscal year (FY) 2018 nearly halfway through the fiscal year.  The compromise bill includes much needed investments for public services and does not include many of the harmful policy riders that were expected. In addition, the final package rejects President Trump’s proposed cuts of $54 billion to domestic public services. Instead, Congress increased investments by $63 billion for domestic spending. Defense spending was also increased by $70 billion, as part of the earlier two-year budget agreement.

President Saunders noted: “I am pleased that this bill rejects and reverses the deep and harmful cuts proposed by the Trump administration. It makes important investments in health care, education, and infrastructure. It also staves off extreme attacks on labor rights, immigrant rights, and other priorities of working families. Though the bill is far from perfect, for the first time in years, investments in working families will move in a positive direction.”

These domestic funding increases are important, but they do not make up for the inadequate investments in programs that have been restricted by tight budget caps since 2011. On the plus side, the bill includes substantial increases to child care, public education, higher education, census planning, opioid abuse prevention and treatment, transportation, and housing.

Policy Riders

AFSCME and our allies fought back over 160 poison-pill policy riders that threatened workers’ rights to organize, workplace safety protections, sanctuary cities, consumer protections, environmental protections, and more. Specifically, efforts to weaken the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); to add so-called “Tribal Sovereignty” language that aimed to exempt businesses from adhering to National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) worker protections; and to block, delay or otherwise undermine the “fiduciary rule” to protect workers’ retirement savings, were all rejected. Additionally, attempts to expand the H-2B visa program were thwarted, extending only the current program through the end of 2018 which also includes a provision that grants the DHS Secretary discretionary powers to increase the cap if “need” is determined. The bill does not include the president’s request to build a wall at the border with Mexico. Instead it provides $1.6 billion in border security funds, including funds to fix existing fencing and levee structures.

The ACA and DACA

The bill fails to address certain issues requiring immediate action, including efforts to stabilize the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by stopping the Trump administration’s action to sabotage and undermine the individual health insurance market. Without legislative action the administration’s efforts will continue to raise premiums and out-of-pocket costs in the individual market.

The omnibus also falls short by failing to provide a fair and permanent solution that protects Dreamers from deportation and creates a pathway to citizenship.

The Tip Rule Agreement

The bill includes a compromise that would prohibit employers from keeping employees’ tips and allows workers to sue employers for stolen wages with damages. While this is a step in the right direction, some lawmakers oppose the compromise out of concerns that it would allow employers to decrease workers’ pay and replace it with tips.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

A six-month FAA extension gives Congress until the end of fiscal 2018 to work out a long-term solution and omits earlier efforts to advance privatization.

Funding for Key Issues:

Department of Education

The bill provides a $3.9 billion increase (6 percent), for Department of Education including:

– Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (Title IV), a source of funding for school counselors and school safety, would see a $700 million increase for a total of $1.1 billion. This program had been targeted for elimination by the president.

– Title I state grants are increased $300 million, to $15.8 billion.

– Title II grants are level funded at $2.1 billion. This program had been targeted for elimination by the president.

– IDEA grants to states are increased $275 million to $12.3 billion.

– 21st Century Community Learning Centers are increased $20 million to $1.2 billion for before and after care available to low-income students. This program had been targeted for elimination by the president.

– Increases the maximum Pell grant by $175 to a total of $6,095.

– Head Start is increased $610 million to $9.9 billion.

– Child Care and Development Block Grant is increased $2.4 billion, to $5.2 billion.

– Secure Rural Schools (SRS) had expired, but received a two-year authorization for $426 million over 2 years with $220 million retroactively for FY 2017, and $206 million for FY 2018 in mandatory funds.

Public Health

The bill provides an additional $3 billion in programs that help states, tribes, local governments, nonprofits, and faith-based groups prevent, treat, and stop the opioid abuse epidemic.

Department of Labor (DoL)

The bill provides a slight increase in DoL funding, (1 percent), as opposed to a 20 percent cut, as proposed in the president’s budget. Increases include:

  • Employment Training Administration (ETA) is increased by $44 million for a total of $10 billion, including $2.8 billion for job training grants to states, $89.5 million for YouthBuild, and $145 million for apprenticeship grants.
  • Job Corps is increased by $15.5 million to $1.7 billion.

The Census

The bill increases Census funding by $1.344 billion to prepare for the upcoming Census, a $1.13 billion increase over the President’s request.

The Social Security Administration (SSA)

The bill increases SSA funding by $480 million, including $280 million for IT modernization and $100 million for reducing the disability hearings backlog.

Housing

  • Public Housing Operating Fund is slightly increased by 3 percent to $4.55 billion but is significantly below the full funding level that Public Housing Authorities need to operate America’s 1.2 million public housing units.
  • Public Housing Capital Fund is increased by 42 percent to $2.75 billion, which will provide additional funds to repair and modernize public housing. This is far short of roughly $40 billion needed to reduce the enormous backlog and to ensure units are safe, decent, and affordable.
  • Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program’s cap increases the maximum number of public housing units from 225,000 to 455,000 which are eligible for conversion and delays expiration of the RAD program to 2024. AFSCME opposes raising this cap and delaying RAD’s expiration.

East-West Center

The bill appropriates $16.7 million, the same amount as last year, for the East-West Center, which is a congressionally authorized non-profit in Hawaii that employs AFSCME HGEA members.

Infrastructure

Highway spending is increased by $2.5 billion, including a $1 billion increase for TIGER grants, a $232 million increase for transit, and a $305 million increase for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Election Security

State election officials would get $380 million in technology grants to upgrade their equipment to ward off digital attacks.

JANUS: The Case That Could Destroy Unions, Part I

AFSCME President Lee Saunders and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders explain how the Janus case will harm unions and workers.

Toledo Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur Honored

After 35 years, two months, and 15 days, Toledo native Marcy Kaptur is set to break a nearly 60-year-old seniority record for a woman in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On Sunday, Kaptur will become the longest-serving woman in the nearly 230-year history of the House.  She will break the record set by the late Edith Nourse Rogers, who was elected June 30, 1925, and represented a Massachusetts House district until 1960.

“Marcy Kaptur has always been a great friend of Toledo’s AFSCME members and of all Northeastern Ohio’s union members,” said Ohio Council 8 President John A. Lyall.  “She has never forgotten her roots or the people she represents,” he said.

Miss Kaptur was the first woman appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and has served on the Budget; Banking, Finance, Urban Affairs; Veterans Affairs, and other committees.

U.S. House of Representatives Rep. Marcy Kaptur, (4th from left), was with us from the start.  This 1983 photo shows her with, left to right, Ohio Council 8 Toledo staff representatives William Fogle, Chuck Hendrix, Toledo Regional Vice President John Hurley, Staff Representative Sally Powless, and Toledo Regional Vice President Cenia Willis.

Public Employee Sick Days Under Attack – Again

Here we go again.

Ohio Republicans have again introduced a bill to limit the number of sick days for public employees. House Bill 298, sponsored by Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township), will receive its second hearing this afternoon in the House State and Local Government Committee.

And Ohio Council 8 members were there to greet them by packing the hearing room.

(Ohio Council 8 activists packed the hearing room to protest HB 298 as an attack on collective bargaining)

“This legislative meddling in local employer and employee relations is another attack on our collective bargaining rights,” said Ohio Council 8 Political and Legislative Director Robert Davis.

“The union and management know what is best for their workplace and have successfully resolved this issue.  This bill is a solution in search of a problem.  It’s unnecessary and a distraction from other critical work that needs to be done by our elected officials,” he said.

A similar proposal was included in last year’s biennial budget but was pulled after public outcry and lobbying from AFSCME at the Statehouse. In addition to restricting collective bargaining rights, HB 298 hurts working families. For example, if a child becomes sick and is quarantined at home, without the ability to take sick leave, parents are left to scramble to find suitable childcare or go without pay, or worse – lose their job.

Continued attacks on workers from Statehouse Republicans must be stopped. AFSCME Council 8 is committed to fighting HB 298 and proposals like it and will oppose the bill during committee testimony.

Cenia Willis Obituary

On behalf of the officers and leadership of AFSCME Ohio Council 8, it is with regret we inform you of the passing of Toledo union leader Sister Cenia M. Willis.

A 40-year union member, she was a member of AFSCME Local 272 and later Local 2174, which both represent Toledo school board employees.

“Cenia was reliable, trustworthy, and straightforward. She was the salt of the Earth,” said AFSCME Ohio Council 8 President John A. Lyall. “She was Toledo’s “go-to” person and was always ready to work for AFSCME’s members anywhere she was needed. Her community was Ohio,” he said.

Starting as a substitute secretary and security dispatcher with the Toledo Public Schools, after 39 years and one month on the job, she retired as a Security Specialist.

“She was always for the little guy and people listened to her because she knew what she was talking about,” said former Ohio Council 8 Toledo Regional Director George Tucker. “And she had a beautiful singing voice,” he added.

As a member of AFSCME Local 2174, Willis served as president, vice president, and treasurer. In 1987, she was elected as a Toledo Regional Vice President and served on the AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Executive Board until 1995.

She returned to the board in 2003 as Recording Secretary and served until she retired from the board in 2011. In retirement, she continued to serve Council 8 members as a retiree representative on the union’s executive board.

Willis also served on the Ohio AFL-CIO executive board and was chairperson of the Toledo Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

The Year Ahead

The Year Ahead

As we look forward to a new year, I hope you and your families had a joyous holiday season. One that has been a chance for all of us to relax with family and friends, and regroup for the challenges that lie ahead.

In 2018, job number one is to stay AFSCME Strong. In the face of an expected Supreme Court ruling that creates a national right-to-work law, we must stand together and work together to defend the gains we’ve made.

In spite of this and other challenges facing our union, I remain optimistic. Here’s why.

Ohio Council 8 members continue to stay AFSCME Strong. We’re negotiating stronger contracts that raise wages and improve benefits. We continue organizing new local unions, and in our established locals, we’re convincing more and more fee-payers to become union members.

In addition, AFSCME’s free college degree program through Eastern Gateway Community College is opening the door of opportunity to every member and their families. A benefit that adds even more value to belonging to the union.

Some question the strength of unions in America today. But recent polls show public support for unions increased to over 58 percent. In addition, two-thirds of young workers support unions and would join one if they could.

This is our time. We can accomplish great things standing together and working together. And I know AFSCME members and retirees are up to the task.

On behalf of AFSCME Ohio Council 8 First Vice President Harold Mitchell and the AFSCME Ohio Council 8 executive board, I would like to wish you and your family a very happy New Year.

In Solidarity,

John Lyall
President, AFSCME Council 8

Toledo City Workers Make Gains

By a 499 to 64 vote, AFSCME Local 7 members approved a new contract with the city of Toledo.  The contract was also unanimously approved by city council.

In addition, to an across-the-board five percent pay raise, over the life of three-year contract, negotiators were able to hold the line on health care with no increase. Other gains include an increase in hazardous duty pay and improvements in vacation language.

According to AFSCME Local 7 President Don Czerniak, “this was a win-win for union members and the city.  With the strong backing of Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, the administration was committed to offer competitive wages and we were able to keep skilled workers on the job serving the citizens of our city,” he said. 

AFSCME Local 7 represents over 800 city employees, including utility workers, heavy equipment operators and skilled laborers.  Toledo Regional Director Steve Kowalik led the negotiations for the union.

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Long-time AFSCME Local 544 members to retire

Long-time AFSCME Local 544 members to retire

 

Lucas County commissioners honored two Sanitary Engineer Department employees for their years of service. 35-year employee Scott Novak (right photo center) and 30-year employee Tim McDermott will retire before the end of the year. (left photo center). Both are long-time members of the Technical and Service Chapter of AFSCME Local 544, the union for Lucas County employees.

 

AFSCME Local 544 also represents county Job and Family Service employees, Child Support Enforcement and Children Services Board employees, along with employees of the Coroners Office and the County Recorders Office.

Labor Day 2017

The first Labor Day with a new President delivers good news, no news, and bad news for unions and America’s workers.

The good news, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, six-in-ten (61%) adults today have a favorable view of labor unions. That’s a big jump from March 2015, when less than half of adults (48%) expressed a positive view of unions.

More good news, young people are far more likely than older adults to view labor unions favorably, with three quarters of those ages 18 to 29 say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions. Immigrants, minorities, and people of color are also drawn to unions.

However, it’s no news that Republicans and Democrats have opposite views on labor unions. That’s the case today with Democrats largely pro-union, while just the opposite is true for Republicans and those leaning Republican who are agitating for state right-to-work laws.

The bad news comes from an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case called Janus V. AFSCME, which could result in a nationwide right-to-work law. Janus is a carbon-copy of the Friedrichs case which was designed to cripple unions. It failed only due to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

With a Presidential appointment unfairly denied to President Obama now on the high court, the case seems destined to strike down 40 years of settled law. We will know next summer.

In anticipation of this right-to-work “victory” anti-union front organizations are committed to “defund and dismantle unions”. Leading this national effort is the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

The Bradley Foundation and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation are pouring money into a coordinated attack on public employee unions in particular – because they are the “foot soldiers of the Democratic party”.

But here is the hopeful news. Ohio Council 8 and our national union are AFSCME Strong and we have proven “we never quit”. We have dramatically increased our Ohio Council 8 and national membership by organizing new unions and educating our fair-share fee payers about the value the union brings to their work and home life.

Finally, let me say that AFSCME has always been an early responder in times of crisis in our communities, donating and distributing emergency supplies and raising money for those in need.

This Labor Day is a time to reflect on who we are as a union. Our job isn’t just to organize members, bargain contracts and protect our members. It’s also our job to bring respect and dignity to all working people. That means being there when we are needed.

I ask that you do what you can for your union brothers and sisters in Texas affected by the natural disaster still unfolding across the Gulf coast.

A good way to start is to visit the AFSCME web page, where you can make donations that will help those in need after the devastation of hurricane Harvey.

On behalf of the AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Executive Board and First Vice President Harold Mitchell, I wish you all a safe and enjoyable Labor Day with your families and friends.

In Solidarity,

President John A. Lyall

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6800 North High Street, Worthington, Ohio, 43085-2512
Phone: 614-841-1918
Fax: 614-841-1299