Your union newsletter - February 14, 2024

Posted Feb. 14, 2024 by

Celebrating being union this Valentine's Day ❤️ 

It's Valentine's Day, and that means taking time to reflect on all the things we love in our lives. And for so many workers it means having a voice by being a part of a union.

There's a lot to love about being a union member and having a union contract. For over 40 years, OCSEA members have fought to to build a strong statewide contract. And local members are fighting every day to secure collective bargaining agreements that protect workers in our cities, towns, and counties.

Share the Union Love! Visit to check out the union benefits to love and share with co-workers, family and friends. 

"I love being a union member. As a member of the OCSEA Bargaining Team, it means having a voice that matters, not just for myself, but for all the union public employees who serve Ohio. I love being at the table to speak up for my union sisters and brothers."

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio


Activist spotlight: Grammy performance sparks talks of union activism, OCSEA's vast history

Social media lit up last week after Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs sang her award-winning song, Fast Car, as a duet at the Grammy’s on live TV. Seeing a black female folk singer and a white country music star harmonize such a beautiful and heart-felt song seemed to be just what the country needed in a time of such division and conflict.


Fast Car is, at its core, a working-class anthem, and that may be because singer-songwriter Chapman has roots right in our very own union. Tracy Chapman’s mom, Hazel Chapman, was not only a single mom raising two daughters in Cleveland, Ohio in the 70s and 80s but was also an early OCSEA activist. Hazel Chapman knew the force and power of a union and helped negotiate the first OCSEA contract with the State of Ohio in 1986.


Like many activists in those early days, Hazel saw disparate and unequal treatment of state employees, especially women, and vowed to make change in the workplace. “The bosses were always telling especially woman, if you can’t do this, you should look for another job,” said Hazel about those early days in state government. “I was a young divorced single mom with two kids,” she said. “You couldn’t keep me down,” she said.

Hazel said when they negotiated the first contract that State of Ohio wages were the worst in the country, except for Mississippi. “That was just wrong. We needed at least a respectable level of pay. But there were a lot of obstacles. We got kicked out of our hotel, so we slept in chairs in the ballroom,” she remembered. “At the end we went to impasse,” she said. “But we fought hard and there were some good people fighting, too,” Hazel recalled of the bargaining team.


Hazel, originally in the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles, transferred to the then Department of Health and Human Services (eventually merging with the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services to become the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services). She was appointed to OCSEA’s Statewide Board of Directors and was an active member of the OCSEA Women’s Action Committee.


“I’ve never been one to run away from anything. I raised two fantastic women who do exactly what they want to do because they saw me,” she said. After retiring from the State in 2000, Hazel had her own local public television talk show for a time. She stays active in the entertainment and political fields. Read more about her amazing story in an upcoming union magazine.


Bargaining: Union and state mediate disputed proposals 

State contract mediation began this week. The OCSEA Bargaining Team prepared its case on the top issues that impact members and continues to fight this week for the fair contract that members deserve. Once mediation for the week wraps up, an update will be sent to OCSEA members' personal emails. Make sure you're getting bargaining updates by having a PERSONAL email on file. Check your email on file by logging on to your member-only profile HERE or sending your personal email through this LINK.

Mediation involves bringing in a neutral “mediator”––a respected expert in labor relations––who tries to help settle disputes by resolving misunderstandings, setting goals, helping reach agreements and compromises, and lending independent perspective to the two sides. In this round of bargaining, the sides agreed to select Jack Buettner, an experienced arbitrator and someone knowledgeable about the current State contract.

Sometimes, a mediator can only go so far, either because the sides refuse to bargain and compromise any further, or because time runs out. That’s when a fact finder would come into play.

The general rules that guide public employee negotiations are established by Ohio law. The law allows the union and management to submit disputed issues to a fact finder after negotiations and mediation have failed and an “impasse” is formally declared.

Sign up for bargaining alerts: Text OCSEA2024 to 237-263


Unions: Building up Black communities and families

One of the enduring lessons of Black history is that a thriving African American community, with economic security and upward mobility, depends on strong labor unions. Union membership has allowed generations of African American families to elevate their living standards and share in the American Dream. And it's union members who have led the fight, not only  for social justice and racial justice but for economic justice, too.


For OCSEA sister Roschelle Holcomb, a union has meant lifting her family out of poverty. "I’ve raised my children to know that being union is something that raises us up and something we are all proud of,” she said.


For OCSEA brother Wilson Humphrey, unions have meant opening career doors for black men and women. "That wasn’t always the case, but unions even the playing field,” he said. 


Watch this video about how unions help African Americans thrive. 

Roschelle Holcomb, Disability Claims Development Analyst - Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities 

Wilson Humphrey, Ohio Juvenile Correction Officer - Circleville Juvenile Correctional


Continue to Take Action against overreaching dental bill!

House Bill 160 would increase dental costs for OCSEA members and all Ohioans with dental insurance! If passed, HB 160––the overreaching dental bill––would prevent dental insurance providers, like Delta Dental, from negotiating lower fees for non-covered services for their members, including OCSEA union members. Basically, it takes away the bargaining power that comes with having a benefits provider and gives dentists the ability to charge ANY AMOUNT of money they want for non-covered services


CONTINUE TO TAKE ACTION: Contact members of the House Insurance Committee. Tell them to STOP unnecessary dental bills that would raise our out-of-pocket costs once and for all. Write a letter to the members of the committee and tell them to VOTE NO!