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


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,


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


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.

On Memorial Day 2015

JAL_IntouchLike Americans have for the past 150 years, every spring we celebrate this holiday called “Memorial Day” which traditionally marks the beginning of summer.

It is a day when families can get together for a picnic or a barbecue, and it a time when communities large and small hold parades and observances.  It’s a day we pause to honor and remember those who were called, and gave their lives in the service of America.

Although the celestial beginning of summer isn’t for another three weeks, today is recognized as the day when summer events officially commence.

It makes me proud to know that on Memorial Day, and the summer days that follow, millions of Ohioans will be able take to the streets and highways to enjoy our public recreation, historical sites, zoos, and festivals because of the vital work you do.

And while many Ohioans will enjoy this and other holidays with their families, AFSCME Council 8 members will be on the job keeping our communities safe and our public spaces attractive and accessible.

Our AFSCME sisters and brothers staffing hospitals will be on the job ready to take care of summer accidents, illness and injuries from minor to major.

AFSCME Ohio Council 8 health department workers will be at work keeping outdoor events ­food-safe and swimming pools clean and sanitary. And our parks and recreation members will be on the job putting our public recreation centers, parks and public golf courses in top share for all to enjoy.

This weekend I hope every AFSCME family has the opportunity to break bread together and take a moment to remember that our freedom did not come without costs.

Every family has someone who served this nation in time of war. We must share that legacy with our children so they better understand our nation rich history and the part each family plays.

I wish you and yours a safe and happy Memorial Day.

In Solidarity,

President John A. Lyall

Ohio Council 8 is AFSCME Strong in Dayton

IMG_7685AFSCME Local 101 City of Dayton employee June Zeis has worked for the city for 20 years. She opens the city’s emergency vehicle garage most mornings, and she makes the coffee, she answers the phone, she handles the billing for the work the garage does for suburban fire departments, and she is 85.

A permanent­ part-time employee, she is the union’s oldest member, “and a union supporter,” said Local 101 President Ann Sulfridge. “We met up with June during house­ call exercises that were part of a two-­day AFSCME Strong train­-the-­trainer session recently held in Dayton.”

After retiring from an architectural firm, Zeis looked forward to spending time with her husband, children and five grandchildren. Unfortunately, a year after she retired, her husband, who worked for the city emergency vehicle garage, was killed in an accident.

“About a month went by when I got a call from his supervisor at the garage asking how I was and was there anything I needed,” Zeis said. He also asked if she could come in for a few hours on a volunteer basis to help them with the record keeping void left by her husband’s untimely death.

Under AFSCME Local 101’s contract, “you can’t ‘volunteer’ to do a bargaining unit job,” Sulfridge said. So the union helped arrange for Zeis to be hired as a part-­time employee.

That was 20 years ago and she is still on the job.

“The firefighters and mechanics are like my family and I really love them all and love working here,” she said. Still lively and engaged in many activities, including editing her high school alumni newspaper, she lives with her youngest son.

“He just turned 65 and would like to retire, but he says he can’t as long as his mother is still working,” she joked.

AFSCME Strong is our union’s defense against those out to destroy us through “right to ­work” and other anti-union actions. It means organizing is job one. Over the next 12 months, our goal is to engage 80 percent of our members in the struggle, one conversation at a time. To make it happen, we will recruit and train 5 percent of AFSCME members to have one-­on-­one conversations with their coworkers.

To become an AFSCME Strong activist, contact your regional office.

Ohio Flexes AFSCME Strong Training

By Tiffany Ricci, AFSCME International

DAYTON, Ohio – Focusing on communicating and organizing, more than 75 activists gathered here last week to practice the skills needed to lead the AFSCME Strong campaign to protect jobs, ensure financial security, and preserve and improve wages and benefits for workers nationwide.

One-on-one conversations are the key to the AFSCME Strong campaign. As part of the training, activists went door to door to hear firsthand from AFSCME Local 101 members on the issues important to them and their families.

Many Local 101 members went years without real wage increases and had to accept numerous furlough days that cut into take-home pay. Recently Local 101’s bargaining committee secured an exceptional contract that banished furlough days, and included wage increases and a uniform allowance.

Buoyed by the success at the bargaining table, AFSCME Strong activists visited more than 115 workers at their homes, and 84 members signed commitment cards. “People were really excited to see AFSCME in the streets and visiting their homes,” said Local 101 Pres. Ann Sulfridge. “The one-on-one conversations are the key to building our union.”

The critical nature of the training was not lost on participants. As longtime union activist Eddie Lawson said, “This is one of the most important trainings that I have been involved in.  It is crucial that we do the hard work and get this right in order to continue the great work of our union.”

Ohio Retirees at Forum Push to Expand Social Security

BY OMAR TEWFIK  |  APRIL 30, 2015 – AFSCME International

CLEVELAND – Standing up for retirement security for all Americans during a White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) regional meeting here Monday, AFSCME Ohio retirees amplified the call to preserve, protect and expand Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

Retirees continue to make the case that these earned benefit programs are absolutely essential to millions of Americans, enabling them to pay the bills and afford medical care once they leave the workplace. More than half of American workers do not have pensions, and millions of seniors are unable to save up enough money for retirement, let alone have the money to pay for costly long-term health care.

“We have to keep fighting to make sure future generations of working Americans can retire with security and dignity, said Marian Garth Saffold, from AFSCME Retiree Chapter 1184. “Social Security works, it’s necessary, and it’s popular. These are reasons to expand it, not attack it for political purposes.”

Nearly two out of every three seniors depend on Social Security for most of their income, and Social Security lifts 22.2 million Americans out of poverty. Without it, the poverty rate of our seniors would quadruple to a staggering 44 percent.

Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid provide reliable access to health care for older Americans and people with disabilities, preventing millions of aging Americans from falling into poverty because of medical expenses.

“We ought to be expanding Social Security. We ought to be financing long-term care and supports,” said Norman Wernet, also from Chapter 1184, who facilitated a retirement security rally across the street from the WHCoA event.

“We’re saying to people who don’t necessarily have the money to save for retirement that they should not have to bear the entire burden of their poverty as they age,” Wernet said. “It’s unconscionable for members of Congress to allege that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are unearned benefits, that they’re some kind of welfare program.”

Despite the obvious importance of these programs for real retirement security, right-wing politicians and their special interest allies continue to launch political attacks aimed at weakening and even destroying them altogether. But AFSCME retirees are fighting back, participating in WHCoA events in Tampa, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, and Seattle. Another regional conference will be held in Boston in May.

Click Here for Original Story

Kent State Taking Cues from Wal-Mart on Pay

Kent State Picket

AFSCME Local 153 bargaining committee members, George Lemons, left, and Ray Davis on the picket line standing up for improved wages and working conditions.

Move over Wal­-Mart, McDonald’s and Yum-Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC), some Kent State University employees’ paychecks are so small they qualify for public assistance.

AFSCME Local 153 held an information picket line to highlight difficult contract negotiations.  The demonstrators were joined by 80 students and labor activists in support of the 375 union members who maintain the 824 acre campus which serves more than 22,000 students.

“About a third of these members are food service and housekeeping workers. They make more than the minimum wage, but at the end of the day, many can’t keep up,” said Woodall, who is leading the union’s negotiating committee.

Low pay is the reason for that, Woodall said. The starting wage for some jobs pays below $24,000 per year, which is below the poverty line for a family of four.

Income inequality is fast becoming the “new normal” for all service workers ­ in both the private and public sector.

This has not escaped the attention of Ohio’s U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, who showed his support for fair pay and good jobs by stopping by the AFSCME picket line.

On her way to her formal inauguration before an audience of more than 700, Kent State University’s 12th President Beverly Warren avoided the union’s picket line.

Invited speakers at the event included Ohio House Representative Kathleen Clyde(D-­Kent), and syndicated columnist Connie Schultz (who is also the wife of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-­Ohio).

As Kent State graduates and strong union supporters, they asked AFSCME officials for permission to cross the picket line before attending the inauguration. Both mentioned AFSCME in their remarks.

Contract negotiations with the university are now in fact-­finding, and the union is hopeful a fair resolution can be reached.

6800 North High Street, Worthington, Ohio, 43085-2512
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