In an effort to spread the good word about unions, OCSEA President Chris Mabe recently addressed students at Wilberforce University to let them know how unions help raise wages and carve a path to the middle class.
He started the conversation by asking the students, who were taking a Human Resource class at the college, if they had any experience with labor unions. Some had had direct experience or had parents who had worked in a labor union. Others had no contact with any unions and knew little about their mission.
Mabe asked the students what things they'd heard about labor unions, good or bad. One student indicated that unions fight for their employees. Another one liked the fact that seniority is protected and that unions help workers by providing a living wage and cost of living raises.
However, some of the students indicated that unions have a reputation for protecting bad employees or don't sufficiently protect employees.
But Mabe explained that protecting employees and ensuring employers provide "just cause" for disciplining or removing employees is only a small part of what unions do. "The fact is, only 3 percent of our membership is ever involved in discipline," said Mabe. Much of what unions do is about fighting for our members in ways that the public never sees, explained Mabe. "For example, we help save Ohio taxpayers millions of dollars by engaging in cost savings measures and innovations that make the state more efficient, and protect our members' jobs," he said. "We lobby. We join forces with like-minded organizations. We amplify our members' voices with the press and we work to offer benefits like free college," he said.
"We have a union movement and then we have organized labor," said Mabe. "Those are two different things." "We are part of a larger union movement that uses our organization to help not just those with a union card, but all workers. A rising tide lifts all boats, don't forget," he said.
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