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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2017 AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Scholarships Now Available

The AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Executive Board is pleased to announce the 35th annual AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Family Scholarships are now available. The 2017 scholarships are named in honor of retired Youngstown Staff Representative Jaladah Aslam and former Cincinnati Regional Director Robert Turner.

Aslam_2A life-long resident of the Youngstown metropolitan area, Jaladah Aslam, has been active in the labor movement and politics for the past thirty years.

In 1986, Jaladah became Chief Shop Steward for the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2001, representing 286 of her fellow employees of the Mahoning County Department of Human Services where she was a Caseworker. In 1992, she became the first African American female to serve as a Staff Representative for AFSCME in the Youngstown region.

For the next twenty-three years, Jaladah represented union members in nine different counties along the eastern portion of Ohio.
In addition to negotiating contracts, representing employees in grievance and arbitration hearings and unemployment compensation hearings, Jaladah also served as the Lead Staff for Political Action in Mahoning and Columbiana counties for AFSCME.

Jaladah retired from AFSCME January 31, 2015. She is now an independent political and labor consultant.

Robert Turner started his career as a public employee in 1969 when he was hired by the City of Kettering. He immediately joined the chapter of AFSCME Local 101 Dayton Public Service Union which represented Kettering city workers.
Working his way up through the ranks Turner became chapter chairman, served on AFSCME Local 101’s executive board and in 1977, was elected the union’s vice president.

TurnerLG1In 1978 Turner was hired as an AFSCME Local 101 staff representative. Later that year with the formation of AFSCME Ohio Council 8 he joined the Dayton Region staff.

In 1985 Turner was appointed director of the Athens Region. For the next 15 years served members in the region’s 14 Southeast Ohio counties.

In 2000, he was appointed Cincinnati Regional Director where he served until retiring in 2006. Turner passed away in 2011.

Ohio Council 8 started providing a yearly scholarship for the child of an Ohio Council 8 member in 1982. In 1989 the program was expanded to include a men’s’ and women’s scholarship. Since then the union has awarded more than 50 scholarships.

To be eligible for the four-year grants of $2,500 per year, an applicant must be a high school senior graduating in 2017, be accepted at a four-year accredited college or university as a full-time student, and submit two 500-word essays on, “What AFSCME Means to My Family,” and their reasons for pursuing a college degree.

Council 8 First Vice President Harold Mitchell, chairman of the scholarship committee, said, “Students entering college today need significant financial assistance to pursue their higher education goals. We take great pleasure in awarding scholarships to these outstanding students,” he said.

Mitchell is the chairperson of the committee that reviews the scholarship applications.
In addition to Mitchell, the Scholarship Committee includes Cleveland Regional Vice President Julie Albers, Council 8 Trustee Kimberly Gaines, and At-Large Vice President Asyia Haile.

Members, click here for more information on how to apply for the AFSCME Council 8 Scholarships

Joyce Beatty and House Democrats Sit in to Stand Up Against Gun Violence

The nation paused on July 24th to watch the drama of a brave band of Democrats stage a day-long sit-in protest on the House floor demanding a vote on common sense gun laws. 

The sit-n launched by Rep. John Lewis, eventually drew 170 lawmakers, lit up social media with demands for a vote on common sense gun control measures like prohibiting those on the government’s no-fly list from being able to legally purchase a weapon.

Polls show that 80 percent of the public support for common-sense measures, and surveys show more than 70 percent of NRA members support measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and keep Americans safe.

Capitol steps after the sit-in Rep. John Lewis said “The fight is not over. So don’t give up, don’t give in. Keep the faith, and keep your eyes on the prize.”

He also tweeted, “We got in trouble. We got in the way. Good trouble. Necessary Trouble. By sitting-in, we were really standing up.”

Eastern Gateway Community College

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Union membership is vital to Ohio Council 8’s ability to negotiate fair contracts with job security, good wages and benefits.  And signing a membership card also enables the union to offer members-only  benefits that can enhance the quality of life for you and your loved ones.

That’s why we have developed a partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College enabling our members and their families to earn an associate degree at no cost and on their own schedule. 

Briefly, Eastern Gateway Community College is fully accredited by the state of Ohio and the credits are transferable to four-year institutions.  The program is open to Ohio Council 8 members – as well as a retiree, spouse, child, step-child, grandchild, step-grandchild, or parent.

Through the union’s partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College, “Council 8 members and their families can attended classes or earn a degree debt-free,” said Ohio Council 8 First Vice President Harold Mitchell, chairman of the scholarship committee.  “And the on-line, self-paced courses are designed to fit into your family’s 24/7 life.”

Click here to visit the AFSCME Council 8 Education web page for more information.

AFSCME Never Quits

Friends,

Something important happened inside the Supreme Court yesterday. But first, I want to talk about what happened outside.

Stephen Mittons, a child protective investigator, spoke to the crowd about how his union advocates for the resources he needs to keep Chicago’s most vulnerable children safe.

Dovard Howard, who makes sure his Southern California community has clean, safe drinking water, talked about his pride in protecting children’s health and in being a member of AFSCME Local 1902.

Watch the video!

As Stephen, Dovard, and dozens of other public employees were speaking on the steps of the Court about the vital role their unions play in helping them serve their communities, inside the nine justices were hearing arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

You’ve probably heard about Friedrichs, but let me give you the quick background on the case. A group of plaintiffs, led by a group called the Center for Individual Rights, is hoping to silence the voices of millions of public service workers who seek to bargain for better pay, health and retirement benefits and job protections through their union.

Even though no one is forced to join a union, and union fees cannot be used on political activities, the Center for Individual Rights is targeting “fair share fees,” the fees that nonunion members pay to cover the cost of providing the benefits they still receive.

Listen, I don’t want to sugarcoat this. A lot is at stake here: the very work we do, the benefits we receive and the protections we rely upon. As I write this, right-wing activists are working on a campaign to convince union members to drop their union if we lose this case.

But I’m optimistic for one reason.

Even if the Supreme Court tries to divide us, AFSCME members will stick together because we know the value of coming together and bargaining for better pay and a safer workplace. You never quit on your communities, and your union will never quit fighting to defend and protect the critical jobs we do every single day.

You and I know rich and powerful people want to weaken our union. That’s why, no matter what the Supreme Court decides, we must continue to fight together.

Volunteer to talk with your co-workers about what’s at stake for our union and why standing together is so important.

Stephen and Dovard set an amazing example outside the Court yesterday just as you do in your communities every day. Join them in standing up for our right to a voice and power in the workplace and at the bargaining table. And together, we will always be strong.

In solidarity,
Lee Saunders

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