Your union newsletter - August 30, 2023

Posted Aug. 31, 2023 by

Convention wrap up: Mabe, Jolly, & Gersper re-elected

Over 500 OCSEA union leaders converged on Columbus last week to represent their local union membership at the OCSEA 35th Biennial Convention. This included electing the three statewide officers; making updates to the OCSEA Constitution, which rules the business of the union; and passing resolutions, which allows the union delegation to take a stance on issues that directly impact public union members.

The delegation voted to re-elect all three current officers. This includes OCSEA President Chris Mabe, Vice President Gerard "Rocky" Jolly and Secretary-Treasurer Kathy Gersper.

Delegate activists participated in a variety of events, workshops and panels that promote the union mission and give leaders tools to take back to their chapters. This included a massive Staff the Front Line rally to promote public service union jobs in Ohio; a celebration of 40 years of collective bargaining with former Gov. Dick Celeste and AFSCME President Lee Saunders, who both sat at the first bargaining table; and a celebration of public employee organizing successes and challenges from newly organized AFSCME activists in the Franklin County Public Defenders Office, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati.

Delegates participated in discussions about the future of work, building their New Employee Orientations, telling their union story and building union leadership.

Special guest Sen. Sherrod Brown surprised delegates and thanked them for their diligent public and union service that makes Ohio happen. "When you love this country, you fight for those who make it work!" said Sen. Brown. "We know the fights we have to fight...And that starts with staffing the front lines!" he said Regarding Constitutional amendments, most were housekeeping or clarifying in nature. One major change includes permitting the OCSEA Judicial And Internal Affairs Committee (JIAC) to explore and recommend that the OCSEA Board of Directors consider implementing electronic and/or phone voting options for State Board of Director Elections that will allow greater participation from members in picking their statewide board leaders.

Passed resolutions included recommitting to New Employee Orientation, celebrating 40 years of collective bargaining, fighting public sector attacks, standing up to privatization, supporting labor-friendly candidates and more.

A celebration of YOU: Labor Day 2023

Labor Day is not just a day off; it's a true celebration of YOU––the great American union worker and the services you provide for Ohio, and ALL the union members that make our world a better place. Celebrate YOU this weekend! Find a Labor Day celebration event near you today.

Standing together with co-workers in a union makes a real difference you can feel every day. That was shown this week at the AFL-CIO's Inaugural State of the Unions this week, in which AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler talked about where union members stand in this country. "Our story is of working people," and "working people are reclaiming our power," she declared. Workers don't just want to be seen, they want to be heard! And they are being heard.

That was evident at last week's Staff the Front Lines rally in Columbus where hundreds of AFSCME members, including 500 OCSEA convention delegates, voiced their concerns about understaffing in public service. "We need to get creative and spread the word about the incentives of being a union public employee in Ohio," said Marion Correctional Corrections Officer and OCSEA leader Brian Miller.

Of course, other factors are at work like income inequality, skyrocketing CEO pay (272 times more than the average worker) and political attacks that try to break unions and workers' voices. But union members are fighting back.

"What's the difference this Labor Day is the [labor] awakening that is happening all over this country," said Shuler.

"The idea of a union sounds complicated, but really it’s just a group of workers coming together," she said. "It's the most powerful version of ourselves that we can possibly be. Something bigger than ourselves," she said.

Here are just a few of the benefits of being union:

  • Workers in labor unions make 18% more in wages than our nonunion counterparts.
  • We are more likely to have health care benefits. More than nine out of 10 union members have access to employer-provided health insurance, compared to 68% of nonunion workers, according to the Department of Labor. 
  • We work in safer workplaces. One study found job sites that were unionized have lost-time claims at a 31% lower rate than non-unionized sites. 
  • We have more job security—even and especially in moments of economic crisis. Life is better in a union. Even a U.S. Treasury first-of-its-kind report declared this week that unions benefit the U.S. economy in so many ways! 

That’s why this Labor Day we’re celebrating our fundamental right to organize by reminding workers across the world—it’s better in a union!

Celebrate being union! Get your FREE "It's Better In A Union" sticker today!

Celebrate Labor Day at the Great American Ball Park

Don't miss this! The Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council and the Cincinnati Reds invite all union members to the Historic Labor Day Celebration at the Great American Ball Park. The all-day celebration of labor, including the Reds vs. Seattle Mariners ball game, will be held on the Labor Day holiday, Monday Sept. 4.

The celebration of all things workers on Monday, September 4 starts at noon. Discount tickets are available to union members for $12 using the member link below. The event will also include a Labor Day tailgate with exclusive access to the Great American Ball Park Fan Zone prior to the general gates opening.

Union members can purchase tickets directly at the Cincinnati Reds ticket sales website at No promo code is required. 

If you have any questions about tickets, please contact Nick Geraci with the Reds at or 513-765-7975.

60 years ago: MLK Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" and Jobs and Freedom March on Washington

This week we commemorate the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This past Saturday, AFSCME members and leaders joined tens of thousands on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to mark the anniversary of the historic civil rights demonstration that marked a turning point in the struggle for racial and economic justice.

“It was more than a protest against Jim Crow; it was a demonstration for labor rights,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said at the commemoration event. “It was about fighting poverty, fighting prejudice, addressing segregation, addressing deprivation. It was about the unbreakable link between racial justice and economic justice," he said. Labor leaders played a key role in the march, held August 28, 1963. A. Philip Randolph, then president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, was the event’s main organizer alongside civil rights leader and activist Bayard Rustin.

AFSCME's labor history and the civil rights movement are so heavily intertwined. In 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, the heart of the racially segregated South, Black sanitation workers faced poverty wages and degrading, dangerous conditions on the job. The city refused to see the men or hear their grievances. But after two sanitation workers were crushed to death on the job, 1,300 of their AFSCME Local 1733 brothers said enough is enough, risking everything by going on strike. They marched in the streets demanding dignity and respect. They wanted recognition of their union…and recognition of their humanity. Ultimately Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life for that struggle, a sacrifice we must never, ever forget.

Want to learn more about the Memphis Sanitation Strike? Listen to the AFSCME "IAMStory" podcast

Click below to listen to Pres. Saunders commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. and his contribution to racial and economic justice.

Supporting striking Youngstown teachers

We stand in solidarity with the Youngstown Education Association (YEA) that commenced a strike on August 23. Youngstown City School District (YCSD) union teachers voted to strike after spring and summer negotiations on a "slim and simple contract" broke down and the union team was met with "obfuscation and random legal maneuvering in place of productive negotiations," wrote the union. After almost a week on the picket line, YEA striking pressures have forced the school district back to the table Wednesday to attempt to bargain in good faith.

"The thing we want the most is to get into our classrooms and start teaching you, but we can't do that without a fair contract," said the YEA.

Additionally, the Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB) voted unanimously last Friday to reject the Youngstown City School District’s complaint that the YEA strike is "Illegal." Attorney Jeff Geisinger, representing the YEA said, “The school board is trying to stop a lawful strike with delay tactics,” he added. “It’s just another example of the kind of shameful tactics that they’ve been using throughout this process.”

Give to the strike fund! Venmo: @YoungstownEAStrikeFund