November Update from Executive Director Joe Rugola
Monday, November 22nd, 2021
To: OAPSE Members
From: Executive Director Joe Rugola
Re: November Update
Date: November 18, 2021
I hope this finds you well and that you are starting to see the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 crisis in the schools and public institutions where OAPSE members work. Make no mistake – COVID is still with us. Ohioans are still falling ill and dying. But as the adult vaccination numbers increase and more students and children receive shots, we hope to see community spread slow, resulting in the lifting of some of the COVID restrictions and a return to a more “normal” time.
That will be welcome news. Until then, OAPSE members will continue to step up and do the important work of delivering public services under difficult circumstances – getting our kids to school safely; cleaning and sanitizing buildings; providing nutritious meals; assisting students in the classrooms and on the buses; maintaining buildings and keeping buses running; making our libraries work for our communities; assisting those with developmental disabilities; caring for children at Head Start agencies; and providing support at community colleges.
COVID has challenged all of us. And OAPSE members have met that challenge. Throughout the pandemic, you have really stepped up and done whatever it took to make sure our students and our communities received critical services. Some districts have responded with appreciation for administrators, teachers and OAPSE members. In an ideal world, that appreciation would include financial compensation as a recognition of your hard work.
You should know that since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been working with employers to use federal funding linked to COVID to reward our members for the incredible response to a once-in-a-generation health crisis. Our regional directors and field representatives have been monitoring available federal dollars and working to persuade all our employers to apply for the funds and then spend them to benefit OAPSE members and the people we serve.
Deadlines and allowable uses for the funds continue to evolve. We will keep tracking the updates and working with employers to secure as much funding as possible. Your field representatives and regional directors will update local leaders as often as possible.
In other news at the federal level, OAPSE continues to fight to repeal the Social Security Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). We are working with the International union and supporters in our Ohio congressional delegation to move forward legislation that would eliminate these terribly unfair laws that target public workers in Ohio, particularly women.
As part of our efforts, we are telling the stories of our members in videos. You can see two of them below. We want to hear your story so we can show Congress that the GPO and the WEP keep OAPSE members from being able to retire with dignity after decades of service to children and families.
We won’t give up this fight. Join us by signing a petition (you can download one here) and sharing your story with us by emailing [email protected] your details.
Please also share your experiences about supply-chain shortages in your workplace and how you and your coworkers are overcoming this latest challenge. Below, you can see one example of OAPSE members in Canton being innovative and creative to meet the needs of hungry students. Let us share your story by contacting us at [email protected].
As some of you know, I’ve been working for OAPSE members for more than 44 years and have been executive director of our union for 34 years. We have had some challenging times over those decades – bad employers, privatization attempts, cuts to school and local government budgets. But these times are particularly challenging, with obstacles we never imagined. I am proud of your response to these challenges and honored to be part of the union that stands with you every day as you strive to make our schools, libraries, boards of developmental disabilities, Head Start agencies and community colleges the best they can be.