Martin Luther King Jr. Day Statement from AFSCME Ohio Council 8 President Sean Grayson

Each commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is a reminder of the contributions one man or one woman can make through acts of courage and conviction to improve the lives of others by joining in the fight for civil rights and social and economic justice. It is also a reminder of the bonds between the civil rights movement and the labor movement forged over time in the struggle for economic security and human dignity.

Dr. King knew this coalition held the promise to lift people out of poverty and improve their lives. King said: “The labor movement was the principle force that transforms misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old age pensions, government relief for the destitute and above all new wage levels that meant not mere survival, but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation, they resisted it until they were overcome.” 

In the dawn of this new year, we once again witness the slow but steady erosion of the economic and social reforms the civil rights and labor rights movements fought so hard to achieve.

The elimination of defined benefit pension plans is forcing Americans to work well past retirement age just to survive. An ever widening and disgraceful level of income inequality, driven by greed and corruption and an economy that works only for the wealthiest among us, is leaving millions of American families struggling to make ends meet.

Attempts by the Trump Administration to eliminate guaranteed health insurance coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions and soaring health care and prescription drug costs are resulting in Americans not getting the medical care they need.  And small but aggressive segments of our society are openly targeting people of color, women,  LGBTQI , Muslim and Jewish Americans with hate, discrimination and acts of violence that rip at the very heart of who we are as Americans together. 

But our society does not have to continue down this path. We need only look to our past and draw from the compassion and resolve of Dr. King to know that each one of us can make a difference. Acting together, change is not only possible but assured. With Dr. King in mind, we can summon the strength and courage to act in defense of civil rights and social and economic justice.

We can stand up and speak out. We can join and participate in our union and encourage others to do so. We can support efforts to strengthen workers’ rights to organize and to collectively bargain. We can support measures that broaden civil rights protections for all Americans.  And we can, and must, vote. 

In these and other ways, we can act to save the social and economic justice measures we fought so hard to achieve. And with momentum at our backs we can move the needle of progress farther until our society is one in which every American can prosper.

In solidarity,

President Sean Grayson

2020 Census: Myth vs Fact

For more information click the link below.

2020 Census: Myth vs Fact

AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Leader Marie Clark Passes

AFSCME Ohio Council 8 marks the passing of beloved union leader Marie Clark on January 2, 2020.  A Columbus native, Clark was born on July 28, 1915. She was 104 years of age.

As one of Ohio’s foremost Black female labor leaders, Clark dedicated her life to working for equal rights in the workplace and the community as a member of the United Auto Workers and AFSCME.

In 1946, Marie began work at the Columbus plant of Curtiss-Wright. She immediately joined the United Auto Workers union which represented workers at what was at that time was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the United States.

Over the next 22 years she worked her way up from assembler to aircraft mechanic. She also became a proven and effective union leader and the first African American woman elected to the executive board of UAW Local 927.

Always an activist, her first job action at the plant was to address the disparity in men’s and women’s locker rooms. While men had large round sinks where dozens of men could wash at one time, women had only a couple of regular sinks and a long waiting line at the end of each shift.

Marie used that time standing in line with her co-workers to organize them. Using their power as UAW members they won equal locker room facilities.

In 1969, Clark decided to move on and began a 23-year career with the City of Columbus, working first for the city treasurer and then for the city auditor’s office.

When AFSCME Local 1632’s sanitation workers went on strike later that year, she supported the job action but could not be a part of the union. After the strike, Marie set about organizing her co-workers and building the union.

Clark went on to become a key union leader serving on the union’s executive board and numerous negotiating committees. In 1980, she was elected the union’s Secretary- Treasurer, an office she held for 12 years. During that time the union kept growing and today represents over 2,000 city workers. Clark retired in 1992.

“When we say we are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us, we’re talking about people like Marie Clarke,” said AFSCME Ohio Council 8 President R. Sean Grayson. “She knew the power of solidarity and was a great believer in direct action. Her accomplishments should inspire us all.”

Her outstanding contributions to the labor movement were recognized in 1985, when Governor Richard Celeste inducted Marie Clarke into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame.

She was also awarded top honors by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in 1987 and worked extensively with the Coalition of Labor Union Women.

In retirement Clark served as the political action coordinator of Ohio AFSCME Retiree Chapter 1184 Sub-Chapter 108.   

Our New Year’s Resolution: Stand Strong Together

On behalf of AFSCME Ohio Council 8’s officers, members, and staff, we extend to you and your family our best wishes for happiness, good health and well-being in the year ahead. As we celebrate in our different ways, we can all be thankful for the solidarity that gives us strength to fight for what is right. We welcome a new year and a new decade to work together to improve the lives of our members and their families.

There is no question that 2020 will go down in the history books as a truly remarkable year. I believe AFSCME’s chapter will be the story of a strong and united union. A union whose members stepped-up to take on the issues facing us in the workplace, the community and at the ballot box.

Standing strong together I know we will accomplish great things in 2020 and beyond.

In Solidarity,
R. Sean Grayson
AFSCME Ohio Council 8, AFL-CIO

Old bells close up, Yaroslavl Church

Local unions put up billboards to encourage buying union-made products

The billboards can be seen around Columbus and are sponsored by the Dayton-Miami Valley AFL-CIO and the Central Ohio Union Label Council.
“We have 15 billboards that rotate between Ohio’s major cities like those  in Columbus ,” said Rodney French of Sheet-metal Workers Local 24, who is also a leader of the Central Ohio Union Label Council.  “We think it’s a great way to promote and recognize the contribution of union workers, the products they produce and the services they provide year round – especially during the holiday season.”
Several Ohio AFSCME Local unions contribute to the effort. Sheet metal Workers Local 24 represents workers in West Virginia and, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

AFSCME Local 954 Member Honored

Ron Kelley, the longest serving employee of the Franklin County Engineer’s Office was recognized for his outstanding years of service at the Engineer’s 2019 Employee Appreciation Ceremony.   

“Ron certainly deserves this award for his 41 years of service. He always does a great job and comes to work each day with a smile for everyone,” said AFSCME Local 954 President Ken Haynes. 

“I’m proud of Ron and the way all our members work together with the administration to keep Franklin County’s 261 miles of roads and more than 500 bridges and culverts safe year-round,” he said.

Kelly has served under five county engineers.  In 1978, Ron was new on the job and got a crash course in snow and ice removal when Ohio was hit by the worst blizzard in its recorded history.

AFSCME Local 954 member Ron Kelley and Franklin County Engineer Cornell R. Robertson

AFSCME Local 954 member Ron Kelley and Franklin County Engineer Cornell R. Robertson

AFSCME Council 8 Stalwart Howard Van Kleef, 1924-2019

The Ohio Council 8 Executive board is sad to say that a dear friend of labor and AFSCME stalwart, Howard Van Kleef, died on November 18th, at the age of 95.

“Howard was fighter for public employees on the job and as a founding member of AFSCME Ohio Retiree Chapter 1184. He was devoted to Ohio AFSCME retirees and served as chapter treasurer into his 90s,” said Ohio Council 8 President R. Sean Grayson.

Van Kleef worked as a pipefitter at Cleveland’s Mt. Sinai Hospital. He was a member of AFSCME Local 2679, which represented hospital workers from 1973 until the facility closed its doors in 1996. He served on the local union’s executive board, as Vice President and was elected President in 1985.

Howard retired in 1989 and devoted his attention to helping to organize and represent Ohio’s retired AFSCME members.
“As a founding member of Chapter 1184 he did a lot to make sure retired AFSCME members received what we need and the respect we deserve,” said fellow Clevelander and Chapter 1184 member Marian Garth-Safford.

Statement from Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga on Freedom Foundation

An out-of-state anti-union and anti-worker extreme and dangerous organization has come into Ohio with the goal to lower your wages, strip you of benefits and healthcare, and privatize your pensions. We need to stay stronger together more than ever now against the dangerous and destructive Freedom Foundation. Read the statement from Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga below.

Statement by Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga
on Freedom Foundation Deployment Against Ohio Workers

“The Freedom Foundation’s announcement that it will set up shop in Ohio is no surprise.  This out-of-state, extreme group has been attempting to undermine American workers’ collective bargaining rights since its inception.  We are proud that we have successfully fended off similar attacks in the past, and we stand ready to defeat the false rhetoric of this front group.  Their dangerous ideas would lower wages, reduce benefits and make workplaces less safe.”

“We need to work together in Ohio to help grow our economy from the middle out and we don’t need nor do we want these divisive groups trying to prevent that. Popular support for unions is high and Ohioans have directly supported our collective bargaining rights at the ballot box.”

Changes Coming to Ohio Public Employees Retirement System Benefits

After months of discussion, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) will institute a “freeze” to its annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in 2022 and 2023.  OPERS has stated that the elimination of the COLA for this two (2) year period will assist in sustaining the healthcare benefit for OPERS retirees. 

Under the current benefit structure individuals who retired prior to January 7, 2013 receive an annual 3 percent COLA.  Individuals that retired after that date have their COLA based upon the Consumer Price Index (CPI) capped at 3 percent.  Once the freeze is eliminated in 2024, individuals will be returned to the status they held prior to the freeze being implemented.

In addition to the proposed COLA changes, OPERS is considering additional changes that will impact future retirees hired on or after January 1, 2022.  Known as Group D, these individuals would be impacted by the following changes:

COLA Freeze – A retiree’s first COLA would be delayed until the 2nd pension anniversary (24 months) after retirement.

Higher Member Contribution Rate – The Member Contribution Rate would be increased to 11 percent (currently 10 percent).

Benefit Eligibility – The prosed change would increase the Age and Service requirement needed to receive an unreduced benefit; currently age 55 with 32 years of service OR age 67 with 5 years of service.

Under the NEW eligibility requirement an individual would had to have reached one of the following thresholds:

  • Age 62 with 35 years of service.
  • Age 67 with 25 years of service.
  • Age 70 with 5 years of service.

Final Average Salary (FAS) – The amount of years used to calculate benefit would increase to 10 years (currently 5 years).

Reduction in Multiplier – The multiplier currently used to calculate retirement currently set at 2.2 percent would be reduced to 2 percent.

AFSCME Ohio Council 8 does not currently support the Group D plan because in our view, it places more of the burden on the backs of workers while threatening the overall financial stability of the system.  As OPERS continues to develop this plan we will keep members update to it status.

Sean Grayson Elected President of AFSCME Ohio Council 8

Left to Right Newly elected Council 8 President R. Sean Grayson, First Vice President Marcia Knox and former President John A. Lyall

In a resounding and heartfelt show of support, delegates to the 23rd Ohio Council 8 convention unanimously elected the union’s top leaders to new terms.

Without opposition, Ohio Council 8’s General Counsel Sean Grayson was elected as the new President of AFSCME Ohio Council 8 and former Field Services Director Marcia Knox was elected as First Vice President.


“I know I am leaving our union in good hands with Sean and Marcia at the helm,” said soon to be former president John A. Lyall.


“Having faith in their ability and the wisdom of Council 8 members, I knew they would be elected to the union’s top leadership positions. That made my decision to retire much easier,” Lyall said.

Ann Sulfridge

In addition, AFSCME Local 265 President Eddie Lawson was re-elected as Secretary  Treasurer and AFSCME Local 101 President Ann Sulfridge was re-elected as Recording Secretary.

Regional Vice presidents were elected without opposition in the Akron, Cleveland, Dayton and Youngstown regions. Elections were held for Regional Vice Presidents for the Athens, Columbus and Cincinnati regions and for trustees.

Eddie Lawson

Below are all those elected for Executive Boards across the state.



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