Joint Statement on School Closings and Coronavirus

Ohio’s education community – educators, education support personnel, superintendents and local school boards – is united in its commitment to ensuring the well-being of the students that we serve as we grapple with the spread of COVID-19 and its implications for public education. We applaud the strong leadership of Governor DeWine and his demonstrated willingness to make decisions that are in the best interest of Ohioans.

We are prepared to do whatever is necessary to adjust very quickly to the unprecedented reality of a global pandemic that threatens public health, has roiled our economy, and led to innumerable disruptions in our daily lives.

The Governor’s order to close all Ohio schools was a big step and we welcome the opportunity to work with Governor DeWine and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria, to chart a path forward for local school districts on how best to manage this pandemic.

Navigating these uncharted waters will require a lot of patience and creativity for everyone involved in decision-making at all levels.  We know there are major structural impediments to having to switch to an online learning environment. But as Ohio’s education teams strive to implement creative solutions, your associations stand ready to assist in any way possible. 

There are many questions that have no immediate answers. They include but are not limited to how missing days will be made up, how testing will be handled, and how accountability systems will be adjusted.  Please know that your input is invaluable, and we will make every effort to be responsive to your needs. As questions are considered and answers forthcoming, we will share that information with you in a timely fashion.

Controlling the outbreak of the virus is extremely important to the health and safety of Ohioans. Being able to influence some control over the growth of the outbreak will allow our healthcare system to have a better chance of having the resources available to provide treatment and medical care for those who do contract the virus. Also, please remember that while children do not seem to be as impacted by contracting the virus, they are known to be carriers and can infect the adults with whom they interact. This can lead to devastating consequences for high-risk adults.

We ask that you do all you can to keep yourself healthy and safe, including hand-washing, cleaning surfaces, and social distancing.  For more details on steps you can take to keep you and your loved ones safe, please refer to these guidelines from the Center for Disease Control.

Thank you for your leadership, your patience, and your commitment to the health and well-being of your students, staff, and community.


Melissa Cropper, President, Ohio Federation of Teachers

Scott DiMauro, President, Ohio Education Association

Sean Grayson, President, AFSCME Council 8

Kirk Hamilton, Executive Director, Buckeye Association of School Administrators

Rick Lewis, Executive Director, Ohio School Boards Association

Joe Rugola, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Public School Employees

AFSCME Local 3956 Member Finds Good Fit At Eastern Gateway Community College

AFSCME Local 3956 member Sherry Thomas has always been interested in the criminal justice system and how it works, so her career as a Deputy Clerk II in the Legal Department of the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court is a good fit.

And the free college program at Eastern Gateway Community College was also a good fit.  It enabled her to move forward on her chosen career path with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement that she earned through the college’s free, on-line program.

“I always wanted to go back to school but between a full-time job and the cost I just wasn’t able to do it. So, when I saw the free college program offered by my union, I jumped on it,” Thomas said.

Thomas was able to reach her goal of going back to school by working on-line in the evenings. “If you have the passion and drive, you can do it. And Eastern Gateway is there to help get you started. I highly recommend it.” she said.

For more information on go to: or call


AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Betty Thomas and George Tucker Scholarships

The 2020 AFSCME Council 8 Family Scholarships are named in honor of two long-time Ohio Council 8 leaders who distinguished themselves as public employees and trade unionists and worked to improve the lives of all Ohioans: George Tucker and Betty Thomas.

Betty Thomas

    Betty Thomas, a mother of five, began her career in education as a school and library volunteer. In 1972 she took  a part-time job  as an Instructional Assistant for the Cincinnati Board of Education. 

  Her skill and dedication were quickly recognized and in 1974, Thomas was hired full-time and soon joined AFSCME Local 1938, the union for unclassified employees. She continued to work for the board of education and served the union for the next 19 years.

In 1995, Thomas joined the international staff as the Retiree Coordinator for AFSCME Ohio Retirees Chapter 1184.

  For the next 21 years she worked as a strong advocate for retired AFSCME members and helped build Chapter 1184 into one of AFSCME’s strongest retiree chapters.

  In addition, she was active in politics and could be depended upon for block walks, door knocking, attending rallies and phone banks.

  Thomas retired in 2016. She continues to be active with retirees in the Cincinnati area serving as Vice President of Retiree Sub-Chapter 107. 

George Tucker

  George Tucker is a Toledo native, who after graduating from high school in 1961, joined the United States Navy. Five years later Tucker joined the Toledo city workforce and immediately joined AFSCME Local 7, which has represented the city’s workers since 1937.

    Working in the city’s Division of Inspection and the sign shop, Tucker held numerous union positions and in 1972 was elected president of, at that time, the 1,100-member union.

  In addition, he served on the AFSCME Ohio Council 8 executive board first as a Toledo Regional Vice President and later as Secretary-Treasurer. 

  In 1984, Tucker joined Ohio Council 8′ Toledo regional staff, a post he held until 1987, when he was appointed Toledo Regional Director. Tucker retired in 2004 and in 2012, he agreed to come out of retirement and served as director for an additional year.

   At the same time, he has served the Greater Northwest Ohio AFL-CIO steering committee and executive board and as President. He also holds a position on the national AFL-CIO’s advisory board.

   In addition, Tucker gives his time and talents to the United Labor Committee, the  Northwest Ohio Center for Labor and Management Cooperation, the Labor Management Citizens Committee, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

  He is also President of the Toledo Library Board of Trustees and serves on the Toledo Port Authority.

Tucker is now retired, lives in Toledo and is still active in his community.

   AFSCME Ohio Council 8 First Vice President Marcia Knox, chairman of the scholarship committee said, “We strongly encourage every eligible student to apply for these scholarships.”

   Knox stressed that all applications must be postmarked no later than Friday, May 1, 2020

     It is suggested that applicants place their name on each page of their essays and to ensure verified delivery to AFSCME Ohio Council 8, mail the application with a return receipt request. 

  Scholarship applications can be downloaded here.

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.

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Phone: 614-841-1918
Fax: 614-841-1299