Ohio University Classified Employees say AFSCME Yes!

By a landslide vote, more than 450 full-time and part-time clerical and technical classified employees at Ohio University overwhelming said AFSCME Yes and won union representation after more than a year-long organizing effort.

In the wake of recent university layoffs of classified employees and more than 150 AFSCME Local 1699 skilled-trade, maintenance and culinary employees, the new union is set to elect officers and enter negotiations with the administration.

“I’m looking forward to working with the newly formed classified bargaining unit to negotiate a fair contract with the administration that will address job security, wages, benefits, health insurance, and other labor concerns,” said John Johnson, AFSCME Ohio Council 8’s Athens Regional Director.

Early this year the organizing committee was ready to move to a mail-in secret-ballot election. However, due to the pandemic shutdown of the State Employment Relations Board the election was delayed until July and the ballots were counted on August 5th.

According to Melanie Quolke, a classified employee with ten years of experience in the university community and a member of the administration appointed Executive Policy Committee* which was supposed give classified employees a voice, “the main issue is trust”, she said.

*Correction –  Quolke is not a member of the Executive Policy Committee. She was a member of the Classified Senate which up to this point has been the voice for Classified Staff at the University. 

“We presented many detailed proposals to the committee on improving our jobs, our workplace and the university only to have many of them rejected out-of-hand by the administration.

“The union will give us representation that counts. With AFSCME we will have a real voice and a seat at the table,” Quolke said.

The new union will now be in addition to AFSCME Local 1699, which has represented skill trades, maintenance and culinary employees since 1967.

“I am very proud of this committee for their commitment to stick together for the long haul,” said Steve Roth, AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Organizing Director.

“I think this victory at OU will show classified employees at other state universities what a real voice on the job can do for them and their families,” Roth said.

Harber Elected New Dayton Regional Vice President

Sean Harber

Sean Harber

At a recent special convention held in the Dayton Region Sean Harber was elected as the new Regional Vice President. 

Harber joins Regional Vice President Jeff Hasty on the executive board representing the region’s 4,000 union members.

A 27-year member of AFSCME Local 101, Harber works as a Parks and Forestry Department employee responsible for maintaining park streets, guard rails, shelter houses, mowing grass, plowing snow, and the maintenance of other park facilities. 

Harber, a life-long resident of Dayton, is an active union member, a proven leader and has served as a union steward for nine years.

“I’m proud to be a city worker. It’s fulling to take care of the areas where people live, work and go to for relaxation and entertainment.  “I’m looking forward to meeting all the other board members and working with them to keep Ohio Council moving forward,” he said.

Harber takes over from Elizabeth Elliott who retired from the city and stepped down as regional vice president after serving the Dayton Region on the AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Executive Board since 2014.

AFL-CIO: Call your senators today and tell them we need at least $1 trillion in federal aid to our states, cities, towns and schools.

The Senate plans to go on vacation AGAIN starting Friday, August 7th. But our communities-and the front-line workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic and helping Americans who have lost their jobs-can’t afford to wait any longer.

Call your senators today and tell them we need at least $1 trillion in federal aid to our states, cities, towns and schools.

Without this relief package, we won’t be able to keep nurses and other front-line health care workers on the job. Our schools won’t be able to reopen safely. Help for Americans who lost their jobs will slow even further. The trash won’t get picked up, and 911 response times will only increase.

This isn’t a blue state or a red state issue. Federal help for America’s states, cities, towns and schools is critical to saving the essential public services that all of our people and communities rely on every single day. It’s these services that we need to beat this pandemic and safely reopen the economy. We cannot choose between the two-they go hand in hand.

Call your senators today and tell them we need at least $1 trillion in federal aid to our states, cities, towns and schools.

Each day the Senate delays is another day of essential public services being cut and front-line public service workers being thanked with a pink slip. Continued inaction will be catastrophic for the economy and our chances of recovery.

Tell your senators to stop delaying and save our public services.

Our lives and livelihoods are on the line.

In Solidarity,


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Columbus Dispatch: Column: State and local aid must be in next relief package

Julie Albers, Guest columnist
Posted Jul 24, 2020 at 4:15 AM

We’re halfway through 2020, and it’s clear that this pandemic is far from over. People are torn between a desire to return to some form of normalcy and the fear of a virus that is still spreading and killing people.

Business owners are in limbo, their doors shuttered by stay-at-home orders that have saved thousands of lives but have also frozen the economy. Unemployed Americans are desperate to return to work, but want to make sure they will have the protection and support they need to stay safe and healthy while they do their jobs.

As a respiratory therapist at a public hospital for nearly 30 years, I have never before seen the level of devastation facing communities like New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. But even those who manage to avoid infection won’t escape the economic impact of COVID-19.

State and local budgets are straining under the increased demand for services and shrinking resources, forcing cuts to programs that people need even more under COVID-19. Without $1 trillion in aid, we will undercut any chance that the economy recovers anywhere near as fast as it fell apart. It is a big number, but that is how big a mess we are in.

Meanwhile, federal lawmakers in Congress are divided about whether to move forward on more relief and recovery funding immediately or “wait and see” just how bad things can get before intervening, even though nearly 140,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus and a second, potentially more deadly wave is expected this the fall. Republicans in the Senate are twiddling their thumbs when they should be passing emergency funding to help states and local governments close budget shortfalls.

If deep budget shortfalls lead to funding cuts for health care and our hospital, we could see personal protective equipment shortages for health care providers, staffing cuts that can force burnout and diminished quality of care and more patients delaying or going without treatment.

Instead of addressing the massive budget shortfalls that will lead to harsh cuts, President Trump and the leaders of his party think they’ve done enough and are content to just wish away the pandemic and its serious consequences. We cannot maintain the essential public services that communities in Ohio depend on — including quality care from our hospitals — without significantly more support for states and localities.

My hospital primarily serves low-income patients on Medicaid. Losing funding for our services would leave many of them with nowhere else to go and no health care during the biggest public health crisis in a century.

My colleagues and I will do everything possible to help every person who comes through our door for as long as we can, but funding cuts will not only make our job harder, they will worsen the health of our patients.

And it’s not just health care that’s at risk because of budget shortfalls. Cuts will mean 911 calls take longer to be answered, roads and bridges are left un-repaired, schools don’t have the funds to safely reopen to students and the programs that disadvantaged communities that have already faced the greatest impact from the pandemic are underfunded. To make matters worse, without federal assistance, more than 2 million workers will lose their jobs. That’s in addition to the 20 million Americans who are already unemployed.

Without those workers and the services they provide, economic recovery will be more uphill, take longer and hurt more people. Denying our tax dollars to our own communities will force cuts to public services that we need to reopen the economy, help businesses and get people back to work.

The impacts of those budget cuts will be felt far beyond the immediate future. By refusing to provide federal aid to states and localities, Republican leaders in Washington are putting frontline workers at risk and undermining public health and economic recovery.

Stalling and complacency from elected officials in Congress won’t help us beat COVID-19. Americans need immediate action on federal legislation that provides funding to states and localities immediately.

Julie Albers is a respiratory therapist at a Cleveland hospital and president of her local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

To read the article on dispatch.com click here.

America is 97 days away from the most consequential election in the past 100 years

As of today, Wednesday July 29, 2020 America is 97 days away from the most consequential election in the past 100 years.

In the shadow of the COVID pandemic, a faltering economy, and a divided Congress and nation, it will take a total effort by every individual dedicated to moving America forward to get to the polls and vote.

Ohio’s AFSCME members, retirees, and their families and friends can count on AFSCME Power In Action to play a key role in making Vote-By-Mail happen.

This election is as much about the voting process as it is about people voting. Just getting voters to the polls is not enough anymore. That’s why early voting is more important than ever.

In addition to being secure and convenient, early voting is a safe option because will limit the number of voters at polling locations at any one time.

Ohio has been doing absentee voting for years and voter fraud is virtually nonexistent.

Click here to download the official form and directions to request an early vote absentee ballot.

State lawmakers are on summer break, so the time for a legislative fix is past. Now it’s up to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to use his authority to ensure all modes of voting are easily accessible to all voters.

Click here to send a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to demand safety for all Ohio Voters in November.

In solidarity,

Political and Legislative Director Robert Davis

AFSCME Ohio Council 8 stands with Black Lives Matter

AFSCME Ohio Council 8 stands with Black Lives Matter.  Our union embraced the concepts driving Black Lives Matter well before the current protests triggered by the tragic death of George Floyd.

In 2015, the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and others, shocked the conscience of AFSCME Ohio Council 8’s leaders who were moved to action.  We organized a frank and honest discussion about racial and economic justice in America as the center piece of our union’s 28th biennial convention in Cincinnati Ohio.

John Ackison President of AFSCME Local 1699. Local 1699 is one of more than 150 Ohio Council 8 local unions that has participated in the council’s Implicit Bias Awareness training program.

We did more than just talk. That ground-breaking and thoughtful discussion lead by participants from Black Lives Matter, the faith community, community-based law enforcement, and academic and social activists, resulted in the convention’s unanimous adoption of resolution to establish a standing committee to promote Racial and Economic Justice within our union, on the job and in our communities.

Working with AFSCME educators, leaders and activists, the committee spent a year developing a program focused on educating our members about Implicit Bias and how it affects how we interact with people of another race despite our good intentions and conscious feelings.

By 2017, all Council 8 staff participated in a train-the-trainer program and the program was offered to our local union leaders and members.

Since that time Implicit Bias awareness is now a permanent part of all AFSCME Ohio Council 8 leadership and activist training and has reached more than 150 local unions.

The labor movement is at its core an equality movement. We seek to represent our members without regard to color, gender, age, sexual orientation, or religion. We demand dignity and respect and to be recognized only on our ability to do the job and our dedication in service.

For every moment we fail to act, we are condemning another mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter to economic and social inequality on the job and injustice and violence in our communities.

We proudly stand with Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter signs are available at Council 8 Regional Offices.

George Tucker Blood Drive

Toledo Labor activists and union members “Answered The Call” to donate blood in an outpouring of love and affection to honor the memory of the life of AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Leader George Tucker.

Blood donors packed the Red Cross Blood Drive named in Tucker’s honor held at AFSCME Ohio Council 8’s Toledo Regional office on July 26th.

Local 544 member Bethany Malory “A great tribute to our AFSCME Brother that’s why I came out today.”

According to Mark Buford, Labor Liaison for the American Red Cross Western Lake Erie Blood Region, the average first-time blood drive nets about 28 donors.  “But to honor George Tucker, 65 donors from across the region’s labor community rolled up their sleeves and answered the call,” he said.

The event was so successful it will now become the Annual George Tucker Memorial Blood drive.

“This is such a fitting memorial for an individual who gave so much to improve the lives of all workers. AFSCME members remember George’s good humor, unmatched skill and dedication, and his tireless work on behalf of public employees and of all Northwestern Ohio’s workers,” said Toledo Regional Director Steve Kowalik.

“There is a critical shortage of blood right now,” Bueford said.  “It’s summer and people are thinking of outdoor activities and vacation, and giving blood is just not on their radar. And then there is the fear of the pandemic,” he said.

Rest assured the Red Cross is following all CDC and Ohio Department of Health safety precautions.

Ohio and across the nation all blood types are urgently needed to help restock the shelves. The Red Cross is thanking those who “Answer the Call”  to donate blood or platelets between July 25 and Aug. 31 by emailing them a $5 Amazon.com gift card claim code.

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce wait times.

Calaway Elected New Cleveland Regional Vice PresidentCalaway Elected New Cleveland Regional Vice President

At a recent Cleveland Region special convention in May, Valisa Calaway was elected by acclamation as the new Regional Vice President. 

Valisa Calaway

Valisa Calaway

Calaway joins Julie Albers, President of AFSCME Local 3360 at Cleveland’s’ MetroHealth hospital on the executive board representing the region’s 6,600 union members.

A 20-year member of AFSCME Local 1746, which represents 1,200 members at the Cuyahoga County Department of Job and Family Services, she is a Health and Human Service Specialist.  Calaway is an active member, a proven leader and has served as a union steward.

“My goal is keep everything honest and fair everywhere.  We are going into contact negotiations and while we have a good relationship with management, it’s hard to predict what the new contract will look like, but we’re optimistic,“ she said.

Calaway takes over from AFSCME Local 1746 President Pam Brown who stepped down as regional vice president after serving the Cleveland Region on the Ohio Council 8 Executive Board since 2000.

Essential Workers Can’t Wait: Fund the Front Lines Now

While the US Senate goes on vacation and it’s leaders say “let’s wait and see”, state and local finances are taking a nose dive resulting in a wave of layoffs and job losses set to surpass those of the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Thanks to action by AFSCME and other unions, the US House passed and sent to the Senate HR 6800 – the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or the HEROES Act – a funding measure aimed specifically at preserving state and local government jobs and services.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Take away defense spending, Social Security and health care, state and local governments account for more than one-fifth of America’s gross domestic product.

The loss of these essential services hurts a community’s health, safety, education, and quality of life. The economy can’t be successfully reopened without them.

Dennis Favazzo-President, Local 2007 City of Bedford

Dennis Favazzo-President, Local 2007 City of Bedford

“Ohio can’t wait. We can see right now what is happening to our cities, counties, hospitals, public schools, colleges and universities,” said AFSCME Local 2007 City of Bedford union President Dennis Favazzo.

“Thankfully we have not had any layoffs but things can change quickly. We use the union bulletin boards we have in every city building, discuss it at our union meetings and at work. I think our members get it,” he said. 

It’s up to us to make sure Ohio Senator Rob Portman is on our side.  Call him at 202-224-3353 or click here to send him an e-mail.

Tell him: “Ohio can’t wait.  State and local government is the foundation our economy is built upon. The economy can’t be successfully reopened without strong public services. The time to act is now.”

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