Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers

Source: Con Carbon

Along the Outer Banks in North Carolina, near where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay, are the treacherous waters known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” More than 600 ships have wrecked off the sandbars of the Hatteras Islands.  In 1871 the United States Lifesaving Service – a federal agency – was established to save the lives of shipwrecked mariners and passengers.  These first responders were called “surfmen” and, in North Carolina, they worked the desolate beaches.   In 1915 the agency was renamed the United States Coast Guard.

In 1880 Captain Richard Etheridge, a former slave and Civil War veteran, was appointed as keeper of the Pea Island Lifesaving Station, 30 miles north of Cape Hatteras.  When he arrived to assume his command, the white surfmen there abandoned the station, unwilling to serve under an African American.  Other black surfmen from other stations were transferred to Pea Island which became the first all-black lifesaving station in the nation.  For 70 years the Pea Island station was manned by an all-African American crew until 1947 when it was decommissoned.

Known for their courage and dedication the Pea Island lifesavers led many daring rescues saving scores of men, women and children.  In 1896, during a hurricane, they rescued the entire crew of the E.S. Newman for which — 100 years later — they were awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal.  In 1992 the U.S. Coast Guard commissioned a cutter, Pea Island, in memory of the African-American crews who served there.

“The general run of the work of the lifesavers is not the spectacular kind that sometimes gets into the newspapers.  The routine drill, the labor of keeping the station and the boats and outfit bright and clean and ready for business, and the lonely night patrol of the silent beach, constitute the bulk of the men’s work.”  Herbert H. Brimley, naturalist and visitor to the Outer Banks in Fire on the Beach, by David Wright and David Zoby, Oxford Univ. Press, 2000.

Honoring the National Moment of Silence

Today AFSCME members from across our state, and across the country, gather for a National Moment of Silence to pay tribute to Echol Cole and Robert Walker. We mark the 50th anniversary of the accident that killed Cole and Walker and started a movement. We honor their memory and sacrifice as we continue the fight for racial and economic justice. #IAmColeAndWalker

National Moment of Silence in Cincinnati

 

National Moment of Silence in Cleveland

National Moment of Silence in Canton

National Moment of Silence in Athens

National Moment of Silence in Columbus

National Moment of Silence in Montgomery County

 

National Moment of Silence in Warren County

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.

Mansfield City Council Opposes Dirty Half Dozen Amendments

On Tuesday, the Mansfield City Council voted 6-2 to pass a bill condemning six proposed amendments to Ohio’s Constitution.

The amendments, known as Becker’s Dirty Half Dozen, have been introduced by Cincinnati Republican John Becker and are aimed at destroying the rights of working people to unionize. The amendments will reduce wages, benefits, and pensions for working people and their families, and will lead to more accidents and deaths. These amendments are anti-worker, anti-family, and will take money out of the pockets of hardworking Ohioans and put it in the bank accounts of out-of-state billionaires.

Dan Mapes, President of AFSCME Local 3308 in Mansfield, asked Council to unanimously approve the bill to oppose these six amendments before the vote.

(Dan Mapes, President AFSCME Local 3308)

“These amendments would have negative impacts on communities that are already struggling, and they’re all Right to Work measures,” he said. “Right to Work, it’s not what it says it is, and it’s absolutely not right for Ohio and the hardworking people that live here.”

Mapes said the changes would apply to all workers, not just those in unions.

“It covers everybody that puts boots on in the morning,” he said. “Anybody that works for a living is subject to these six constitutional changes.”

Fourth Ward councilman Butch Jefferson won applause from the audience after saying he opposed the six amendments.

“I understand unions. I know what they’re about,” he said. “They are so much responsible for a lot of the benefits and perks that workers have…There’s always somebody fighting the working man, trying to get rid of their benefits and perks that unions for years and years have fought for.”

Jefferson told the union members to “keep fighting,” saying, “As long as I’m up here, you will have my support.”

AFSCME Council 8 strongly opposes these six amendments and applauds the actions of the Mansfield City Council to stop them from becoming law.

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

Desposito Appointed to Retirement Board

Desposito Appointed to Retirement Board

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees (SERB) has appointed AFSCME Local 2415 President Randy Desposito to fill a vacancy on the 11-member board.

A Critical Care Nurse and long-time member of the union for University of Toledo Medical Center Employees, Desposito will represent non-teaching State College and University employees on the board’s governing body.

“I am committed to the long-term survival of our retirement system and will work to make sure it continues to provide meaningful benefits to career public employees,” Desposito said.

The Board is responsible for the administration and management of OPERS. Board members also authorize the investments made with the system’s funds. They receive no compensation for their service to OPERS.

He joins AFSCME Local 3360 Cleveland MetroHealth President Julie Albers, former Ohio Council 8 Dayton Regional Vice President Ken Thomas, and AFSCME Local 11/OCSEA President Chris Mabe on the board.

Desposito will stand for election to the board in 2018.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a time for families, a time to love, to give, and a time to reflect on the things that matter most in life — each other.  The same is true of our Union family.

It’s also a time to take stock of the past year. 2017 has been a year unlike any other. But we’ve made gains and built a stronger AFSCME Ohio Council 8 that’s ready to brave the coming tests.  And we have done it all as a family, as a Union.

With many forces working against us, we have continued to organize new members, represent you on the job and bargain strong contracts.  We should also be very proud of our success making our union AFSCME Strong.

Next year AFSCME will face a hostile U. S. Supreme Court set to make right-to-work the law of the land for public employees.  And to the Nation Labor Relations Board will continue tear down private sector worker rights.

With the strength of our members, activists, retirees, and our local union leadership, our Union will continue to take on the challenges facing Ohio’s working families.

We’ve always stuck together and looked out for each other and I am confident we will continue to do so.  We all have much to be thankful for.

First Vice President Harold Mitchell and the Ohio Council 8 Executive Board join me in thanking you for the work you do.

In Solidarity,

John A. Lyall
President AFSCME Ohio Council 8

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