Ohio Association of Public School Employees

Stronger Together.

Our Union



The History of OAPSE/AFSCME

The seeds which grew into OAPSE/AFSCME were planted in 1934 as our nation suffered through what would be the worst economic depression in U.S. history. A small group of non-teaching public school employees, seeking a voice in their future retirement, organized the Ohio Non-Teaching School Employee Retirement Association. As a result of that organization’s work, the School Employee Retirement System (SERS) was created, granting those workers some measure of security in retirement.

Encouraged by their initial success, the pioneers brought about the incorporation of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees in 1941. The original charter was signed by three school custodians – Harry E. Johnson, A.L. Cochran, and C.L. Eichner. In its early years, OAPSE‘s focus was on legislation and on the state budget, as it affected school districts and in turn the organization’s members. As the post World War II years unfolded and as the nation’s economy moved into a period of prolonged industrial growth, OAPSE‘s interests gradually shifted to the relationship between employees and their local school districts.

Even in the absence of a collective bargaining law for public employees in Ohio, the decade of the 60’s witnessed OAPSE‘s expansion and the development of negotiation relationships between the union’s “Chapters” and Boards of Education. With no technical process for achieving recognition by individual school districts, the union sometimes engaged in job actions just to obtain the right to negotiate on behalf of its members. As the 1970’s unfolded, OAPSE came under the leadership of a former school custodian from the Canton area, Lawrence


  • State officers
  • State executive board
  • District offices
  • Locals
  • Business Office/Staff


In OAPSE/AFSCME, the members run the union. Leaders and activists gather in every odd year at a Constitutional Conference to set the priorities and agenda of our union. Delegates, who are elected to represent their local unions, may consider changes to the constitution at these meetings.

(link to pdf)


In OAPSE/AFSCME, the members run the union. When in session, the Delegate Conference is the highest decision-making body in the union. Participants in these meetings are the elected state officers, state executive board, district officers, local presidents and local delegates. Between conferences, elected officers and board members are charged with the responsibility of keeping OAPSE moving forward. The table below illustrates the Constitutional structure of OAPSE. To find out more about each level in our organization, just roll over each element for an explanation.

Covered on staff page?


OAPSE‘s leadership and staff are able and ready to assist with everything from organizing to building the union’s clout through political action and a strong PEOPLE program. With elected leaders throughout Ohio, a state office and regional staff in your area, your union is well-equipped to serve the needs of OAPSE members. The chart below shows the organizational structure of OAPSE. To find out who’s who in leadership, state office staff and regional staff, just click on the buttons for a description.

Covered on staff page?