It has been two years since our world and our work lives were shaken by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over those long months, we faced down the threat of job loss for our members; fought alongside our OAPSE Locals for a fair deal in return for the dedication of the workers we represent; and won gains at the negotiation table, in the courts and through the grievance and arbitration processes.
Incredible as it may seem, in 2020 and 2021, our professional staff, the best in the American labor movement, bargained more than 450 contracts to successful conclusion. Many of those agreements we reached with employers included meaningful pay increases, improvements in health care insurance and bonuses for the courage and commitment to the kids and the parents we serve throughout these difficult times.
At the same time, we were bargaining and enforcing our contracts, we maintained our vigilance over the School Employee Retirement System (SERS) to protect your retirement security. We advanced in the U.S. Congress our work to repeal the unfair Social Security Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). And we won historic victories in the courts that kept our members’ wages and benefits in place during the pandemic.
Accomplishing all of this in the face of a serious health threat and school and other agency closings, meant staying on the job and keeping our offices open throughout the COVID-19 shutdowns. I am proud of the courage our members and our OAPSE staff demonstrated every day over the last two years.
We have listed below just a few examples of our achievements over the last two years. Our track record is the reason why, in just the last 24 months, 7,750 working Ohioans in our Public Schools, DD’s, Head Starts, Public Libraries and Community Colleges have signed membership forms to become part of OAPSE.
Our commitment to you will never waver ,and the professionalism we bring to our work will never be compromised. That is why tens of thousands of Ohio public workers are “Now, More Than Ever – Sticking With Our Union”.
· Hamilton City Clerical and Aides, members of Local 151, realized that they were not receiving the proper rate of credit for the advancement of pay steps. Instead of moving these workers a step after 120 days of service, the employer was calculating it at 180 days – costing the employees 60 days of the higher pay they were due. OAPSE took on their fight, and won over 41 employees a total amount of almost $90,000. Local 151 members received individual payments between $862 and $15,665. The local union used this victory to organize their coworkers, and gained 15 new members. Not only did they win the money they were owed, they built an even stronger union!
· Members of OAPSE Local 333 at I Am Boundless Inc., a residential care organization for the developmentally disabled, recently negotiated a strong contract that includes a $1 per hour wage increase and held health care premiums at current levels for nearly 300 workers.
· Full-time workers at Belmont County Head Start, members of Local 773, are receiving a bonus of $3,700. And part-time employees are getting a bonus of $1,875. The union’s success in negotiating those bonuses started an organizing drive that resulted in 99 percent membership in the union as the local heads into a wage reopener this summer.
· In what members of Local 312 at Groveport Madison called a “life-changing contract,” they negotiated equity increases resulting in wage hikes as high as 20 percent – with some workers receiving more than $3 per hour in the first year of the contract. The agreement has many improvements, including language that prevents the employer from contracting out any bargaining unit work.
· At Preble-Shawnee Local Schools, the members of Local 675 fought back against reducing the hours of cooks to knock them out of health insurance benefits. The win resulted in 6 new members!
· The members of Local 695 who work in transportation at Parma Local Schools won an attendance incentive for the remainder of the school year: bus drivers will get $2,250; bus aides will receive $750; and bus mechanics will get $500 as a way to help with the bus driver shortage.
· In Leetonia Exempted Village Schools, where workers are members of Local 224, OAPSE had been pushing the employer to fill a position in the cafeteria. The unfilled position was creating a hardship for the entire department. The local union and OAPSE refused to stop until the job was posted and filled, and now the work is being done as it should be – a win for the workers and the students they feed.
· Defiance City Schools employees, members of Local 9, negotiated a wage hike of 8 percent over three years and a COVID stipend of 3 percent.
· Members of Local 169 at Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission Head Start won pay increases totaling almost 12 percent over their three-year contract, including a 5.9 percent hike in year one!
· At Claymont Local Schools, where members of Local 390 were forced on strike a few years ago, OAPSE won a contract with 8 percent wage increases over three years and a COVID sign-on bonus.
· OAPSE members at First Student Dayton, Local 109, signed a 3-year deal with Dayton Public Schools to handle all their charter and parochial schools, which has increased the local’s membership by 65 percent. The local union also ratified an MOU giving the members a $3 per hour raise.
· The drivers at Dayton Public Schools Transportation, Local 627, have ratified a contract with a $4 per-hour raise and 2 percent in the third year. Also, each member received a $1,200 lump-sum payment in 2021 and will get an additional lump sum of $250 in September.