AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on the King v. Burwell Decision

WASHINGTON – AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell decision:

“We are thrilled that the Court came down on the side of allowing millions of Americans to keep their health care. By rejecting this overtly partisan attack against existing law, the Court has preserved the health and peace of mind of the more than 8 million Americans who will now continue to rely on the law for access to quality, affordable health coverage. Any further attempts by extremists in Congress or in the states to undermine the law should be dismissed as the dangerous, out of touch, and partisan ploys that they are. We hope this decision is a signal that the Court will not stand for political attacks on existing laws that work well, especially laws that benefit everyday Americans.”
 

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 AFSCME’s 1.6 million members provide the vital services that make America happen. With members in hundreds of different occupations — from nurses to corrections officers, child care providers to sanitation workers — AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services, and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.

Ohio Labor Leader Turns 100

AFSCME Council 8 Leader Marie Clarke, who dedicated her life to working for equal rights in the workplace, is celebrating her 100th birth day this month.

As one of Ohio’s foremost Black female labor leaders, Marie began work as a mechanic in 1946, at the Columbus plant of Curtiss-Wright, which at the time was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the United States.

As a single mother, she was one of thousands of women who went to work in the factories while the men left to serve in the military. After the men returned, Marie was one of the few minority women to keep her job.

As a factory worker she helped organize and recruit members into the United Auto W
orkers union. One of her first job actions was to address the disparity in washroom conditions.

The men’s washroom had large round sinks where dozens of men could wash at one time, and then be on their way home. However, the women’s locker room had just a couple of regular sinks, and always had a long line at the end of the shift.

Marie used that time standing in line to organize the women to join the union. As UAW members they successfully persuaded the union to push management to provide equal washroom facilities.

By the end of her 22-year aircraft career, she was the first African American woman to be elected to the executive board of UAW Local 927.

The union survived the company’s transition from Curtiss-Wright to North American Rockwell, but Marie decided to move on.

In 1969, Marie began a 23-year clerical career at Columbus City Hall – and brought her union activism with her.However, she found that only sanitation workers were in the union members. When the AFSCME Local 1632 went on strike later that year, she supported the sanitation workers, but could not be a part of the union, or participant in the picket lines.
After the strike, Marie set about organizing her co-workers and building the union. She went on to become a proven and effective union leader.

Marie was the “go-to” person on many issues and was appointed to a series of ever more responsible union posts. She was then elected to serve on the AFSCME Local 1632 Executive Board.

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 more than 2,000 city workers.

“When we say we are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us, we’re talking about people like Marie Clarke. She knew the power of solidarity and was a great believer in direct action. Her accomplishments should inspire us all. We wish her a happy 100th birth
day,” said Ohio Council 8 President John A. Lyall.

Her outstanding contributions to Ohio and the labor movement were recognized in 1985 when Governor Richard Celeste inducted Marie Clarke into the Ohio Woman’s Hall of Fame. She has also been honored by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the Coalition of Labor Union Women.

 

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Union Dad: Economic Justice and a Rich Family Spirit

When I was growing up in Cleveland, my dad, Emmett Saunders, Jr. was a bus driver and a proud member of the Amalgamated Transit Union, ATU. Although he passed away in 2009, the lessons he taught about what it means to be a union member have never left me. That’s why I’m proud to be a union son, and proud to be a union dad.

I can clearly remember sitting at the kitchen table and having conversations about the value of unions and what they meant for working families like ours. My dad had a strong role model in his own father, my grandfather, Emmett Saunders, Sr. Granddad was a principal, community activist and president of the West Virginia State Teachers’ Association, the professional organization for the state’s black teachers — at a time when membership in the West Virginia Education Association was segregated.

My mom was a union member as well. After raising my brother and me, she went back to school, earned a college degree and taught at the local community college. One of the very first things she did was join the American Association of University Professors, AAUP.

Union membership meant our family didn’t have to struggle on low-wage, no-benefit jobs to make ends meet. It meant my dad could be confident that my brother and I would have more opportunities than he had.

Because of my dad’s good union job, not only did my family have enough for the necessities, we had enough for extras, too. We went to Euclid Beach, the now-closed local amusement park on Lake Erie, a few times a year. We took road trips to different parts of the country and visited our family in West Virginia every summer.

But stories of union families like mine are becoming less common. The right to bargain collectively is under attack across the nation. As bargaining is weakened, working families like the one I grew up in are losing their footing and their hold on the American Dream. Unions work because, through solidarity, we can have a voice and the power that goes with that voice to support our families. That’s how workers get strong, and how America gets stronger…

For more please click here.

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Active Members Make Strong Unions

Strong unions are built on the shoulders of active members who have earned the respect of their communities. And the best way to recruit and encourage active members is leading by example.

In Cincinnati, AFSCME Ohio Council 8 leaders, members and staff did exactly that by volunteering to help the Greater Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity rehabilitate a home intended to house a family in need.

“Earlier this year the staff got together and discussed what we could do for the people Cincinnati,” said Regional Director Renita Jones-Street.

That discussion led to the re-hab project, the first in an ongoing community action program “to ‘give back’ to the community – because we don’t just work here, we live and raise our families here, too,” said Cincinnati Regional Vice President Emily Moore.

The crew of volunteers painted, put in drywall, tore out the kitchen floor, and repaired the deck at the rear of the home.

The home’s recipient is a low income single mother with children. Qualifying for a home is a three-year process and includes 250 hours of work. The individual is prepared for home ownership by completing courses in an owner’s responsibilities, finances, and home maintenance.
Habitat for Humanity is a global, nonprofit housing organization dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes.

It advocates for fair and just housing policies and provides training and access to resources enabling families improve their shelter conditions.

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Photo caption:
The AFSCME rehab crew included, left to right, Rebecca Frankenhoff, Andrew Frankenhoff, Harold Mitchell, Cherika Carter, Mark Caddo, Eric Clemons, Don Klapper, Carolyn Parks, Renita Jones-Street, Detra Covin-Willams, Emily Moore, Julia Mason, Rachel Thomas , and not pictured, Ryan Baumgartner.

AFSCME Child Care Providers Make Their Case

AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Child Care providers defended their union rights before the Senate Finance Committee and urged its members to adopt a budget amendment that would restore the collective bargaining rights recently stripped away by Gov. John Kasich.

Testifying before the committee, AFSCME Local 4025 President Aysia Haile explained how “having a voice on the job promotes better child care.

“Without our voices, the state will lose a critical negotiating partner. In addition, parents and their children will lose our voice as their advocate,” she said.

Haile went on to say, “I feel this is discrimination against women. Our profession is 90 percent run by women, and I feel our concerns, our voices, and our rights are being shut off,” she said.

In addition, Michael Batchelder, an Ohio Council 8 attorney, testified that in-home child care providers fill an irreplaceable niche in the state’s early childhood care system.

He noted that the union does all of this work on behalf of our members at no additional cost to the state.

“We do not bargain over wages or health insurance. The only cost is that providers who care for Ohio’s children have basic rights and a voice in decisions that affect their businesses and the children they care for,” he said.

Gov. Kasich and the legislature often pronounce their support for enhanced early childhood education. Yet the Governor’s action to strip collective bargaining rights from family child care providers sends the opposite message.

“We call on the legislature to do the right thing for Ohio’s child care providers, parents and children, and restore our collective bargaining rights,” Batchelder said.

Read full comments from AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Attorney Michael Batchelder

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Will You Stand Up for Ohio’s Children?

Traci Poellnitz, President of AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Local 4023 wrote the following message for We Are Ohio.  We’re thankful for leaders like Traci who are standing up to these attacks on Ohio’s working people.  You can read Traci’s message below.

Traci PoellniMy name is Traci Poellnitz. I am an independent child care provider with a degree in Pre-K education. I’ve been caring for young children in my home for over twenty years. It’s tiring, difficult work, but I love what I do.

Most of the children I work with are growing up in low-income, at-risk families. From the time they’re born until they start kindergarten, my staff and I provide a warm and supportive environment while preparing these children for future success.

By taking away collective bargaining rights for independent care providers, Gov. Kasich isn’t just hurting workers like me – he’s hurting the children we care for and their families.

For working parents, quality childcare can be the difference between living on public assistance and moving up into the middle class. And for many of my fellow independent childcare providers, collective bargaining has made it possible to do this job well.

Collective bargaining has improved the standards of care that independent providers offer families in need. And it’s secured the wages, hours and benefits that hard-working care providers deserve.

Hard-working Ohioans should have the right to collective bargaining, but Gov. Kasich is trying to take this right away. Please help us fight back – click here to take action.

I’ll be standing up against these attacks. I hope you’ll join me.

In solidarity,

Traci Poellnitz

Toledo Blade Editorial: Union Busting

Published Sunday, May 30 in the Toledo Blade

Gov. John Kasich this month quietly stripped 10,000 Ohio in-home health-care workers of their right to belong to unions. That move marks the latest offensive in the governor’s troubling campaign against labor rights.

In 2007, former Gov. Ted Strickland granted independent home health-care workers the right to bargain collectively with state government. He extended the right to home child-care providers the following year. The policy applied to workers who are reimbursed for care through state programs such as Medicaid.

Such employees contract with Ohio agencies to provide care. But because they are not considered direct employees of the state, they aren’t eligible for the same benefits and bargaining rights as public employees.

Mr. Kasich vowed to rescind Mr. Strickland’s policy during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. He claimed that independent care providers have no right to collective bargaining with the state because they aren’t state employees.

Home care workers provide vital services to disabled, elderly, and the youngest Ohioans. They should be entitled to the same opportunities to address work-related concerns and bargain collectively as public employees and other care providers. The governor shouldn’t strip these workers of their rights based on a technicality.

In-home child-care providers have made gains in their contracts since they got the right to unionize. Joe Weidner, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which represents child-care providers, told The Blade’s editorial page: “Before they unionized, their contract with the state was take it or leave it.”

Democratic state senators plan to introduce legislation that would effectively undo the governor’s repeal. It’s unlikely to gain approval by Republican lawmakers who control the General Assembly.

Mr. Kasich says home health-care workers no longer need access to health insurance through their unions because of recently expanded opportunities to obtain insurance through the Affordable Care Act and state Medicaid expansion. Yet plans on the health insurance marketplace often are more costly to workers than employer-subsidized plans and don’t offer the same benefits.

Workers’ continued access to Obamacare is hardly guaranteed. Governor Kasich has called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, even as he relies on the law to pay for Ohio’s Medicaid expansion. A case before the U.S. Supreme Court threatens to dismantle federal subsidies for Obamacare recipients in many states, including Ohio.

The governor evidently has not fully learned the lesson of the controversial Senate Bill 5, which would have severely restricted public unions’ bargaining power. Mr. Kasich signed the bill into law in 2011, but Ohioans overwhelmingly voted to repeal it that year.

To his credit, Mr. Kasich has said he doesn’t intend to bring extreme “right to work” legislation to Ohio, which has decimated unions in other states. Yet the governor’s position on labor rights often remains troublesome.

Mr. Kasich has again chosen political expediency over the welfare of thousands of Ohio workers. If he makes his long-anticipated entrance into the presidential race, that will be a valid topic for discussion.

Read at http://www.toledoblade.com/Editorials/2015/05/30/Union-busting.html#c2DpzLdgYY5gFFYd.99

Kasich Axes Bargaining Rights for Child Care, Home Care Providers

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The collective bargaining rights of more than 15,000 independent in-home child care and home care providers in Ohio were stripped away last week by Gov. John Kasich in the most recent of several anti-worker actions taken since his election in 2010.

Governor Kasich rescinded two executive directives, including one issued to independent child care providers in 2008 by then-Gov. Ted Strickland. More than 2,700 providers, who care for an estimated 20,000 children in Ohio, are represented by AFSCME Council 8.

The second executive order, signed in 2007, covered home health care providers represented by the Service Employees International Union. Both orders allowed the providers to seek a union and engage in collective bargaining with the state.

Since 2010, the child care providers have been covered by a contract signed by then-Governor Strickland that included health care benefits, a “Bill of Rights,” a grievance procedure and recognition of their union, improving provider reimbursement rates, pay practices, and training and operating rules with state and county officials. That contract would have expired at the end of June.

Governor Kasich’s order revokes all of those contract rights. The governor’s action “isn’t about doing what’s right for our state, it’s an attack on Ohio’s most vulnerable children that will limit their opportunities in the future,” said AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Pres. John A. Lyall, also an AFSCME International vice president.

“Governor Kasich has repeatedly targeted Ohio workers since taking office, and he’s continuing that pattern today,” Lyall added. “A loss of collective bargaining rights will mean lower-quality child care available to parents, and the loss of thousands of jobs that are largely held by women and minority workers now. This is another mean-spirited attack on working people that will hurt our families and our communities.”

Independent child care provider Asyia Haile, president of AFSCME Local 4025, which represents child care providers in 16 central Ohio counties, said Governor Kasich’s actions undermine their efforts to provide quality care that “can be the difference between a family living on public assistance or moving into the middle class. Without union representation, I worry that families won’t be able to find the same professionalism or standards of care for their children.”

Haile said the governor’s action “will probably drive some providers out of business or discourage talented professionals from entering the industry at all. Ultimately, this move will be bad for Ohio’s working families and for our communities.”

You can help these hard-working child care providers regain their union rights. Click here to send a message to Governor Kasich and other state lawmakers to urge them to restore collective bargaining rights with an amendment to the state’s two-year budget.

Read the international blog story here

Childcare Providers Speak Out

Denying child care providers union rights won’t improve early childhood education: Letter to the Editor

I have been an independent in­-home care child provider in Cleveland for 14 years and I care for four children ages 14 months to 6 years. In my opinion, Governor Kasich’s decision to rescind my collective a bargaining rights is a short­-sighted, politically motivated move Ohio’s working parents will come to regret. (“Kasich halts union rights for child care providers,” Plain Dealer, May 22) And the first thing Kasich needs to know is I am a licensed, early childhood education professional, not a babysitter.

The work I do makes a life­long difference to my community and the children I care for. As a professional, the union is my voice to advocate for those I serve and my fellow providers. Through the union I can share my every­day experience about what works and what doesn’t, and offer improvements. This real­-life feedback channel will now be lost. Denying me my right to union representation has little to do with improving early childhood education in Ohio, and a lot to do with the governor’s political ambitions.

As much as Kasich claims all is forgiven for Senate Bill 5, he still never misses a chance to take a whack at working Ohioans. Without a voice on the job, I believe many providers will leave the profession and many talented individuals will be discouraged to take up early childhood development as a career. Only the Legislature can overrule the governor’s decision. In my opinion it was made only to earn credibility with the far­ right on the back of Ohio’s working parents and children.

Shame on them if they don’t.

Theresa Warner,

Cleveland

This letter to the editor originally appeared in the Plain Dealer. 

KASICH HITS EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT – AXES COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS FOR CHILD CARE PROVIDER

Worthington, Ohio–Canceling collective bargaining rights for independent, in-home child care providers takes Ohio’s working families another step backward.

Gov. John Kasich’s move affects more than 2,700 of the state’s independent child care providers who provide home-based care for an estimated 20,000 children.

The union, recognized by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in 2008, is nearing the end of its contract with the state which expires at the end of June.

“Every investment in early education is an investment in a child’s future. Today’s action isn’t about doing what’s right for our state, it’s an attack on Ohio’s most vulnerable children that will limit their opportunities in the future,” said AFSCME Ohio Council 8 President John A. Lyall.

“Gov. Kasich has repeatedly targeted Ohio workers since taking office, and he’s continuing that pattern today. A loss of collective bargaining rights will mean lower-quality child care available to parents, and the loss of thousands of jobs that are largely held by women and minority workers now. This is another mean-spirited attack on working people that will hurt our families and our communities,” Lyall said.

“We’re not babysitters. Quality child care like what we provide can be the difference between a family living on public assistance or moving into the middle class,” said independent child care provider Asyia Haile, President of AFSCME Local 4025 which represents independent child care providers in 16 central Ohio counties.

“Without union representation, I worry that families won’t be able to find the same professionalism or standards of care for their children. This will probably drive some providers out of business or discourage talented professionals from entering the industry at all. Ultimately, this move will be bad for Ohio’s working families and for our communities,” she said.

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