The dangers of being a winter Road Warrior: Help keep our ODOT members safe
The Ohio Department of Transportation announced this week that fifteen (yes, 15!) ODOT snowplows have been hit since the start of 2024. Our union brother and sister winter Road Warriors have been working around the clock in inclement weather to keep our roads clear and safe for travel. But the dangers associated with keeping us safe are astronomical. We must all do our part to keep them safe and make sure they make it home to their families every time!
Here are just a few tips the traveling public can follow to keep our OCSEA brothers and sisters in ODOT safe:
Don't Crowd the Plow:
- Don’t follow too closely behind a snowplow — stay at least 200 feet behind it.
- Never pass a snowplow on the right.
- Be aware of where the plows are on the road, and never drive through a snow cloud.
- Be aware of the driver’s blind spots.
Avoid Distracted Driving:
- NEVER text while driving.
- Turn your phone off or switch to silent mode before you get in the car.
- Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading, switching the radio or any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
- Pull over if you need to make a call or are distracted by those in your car.
- NEVER drive while tired or drowsy.
- Plan ahead to know where you're going and be familiar with directions before leaving.
Slow Down and Move Over:
- Immediately slow down and move over a lane when you see ANY flashing lights.
- If you can't move over safely, SLOW down with caution.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Avoid fines, save a life. It's the LAW! Ohio law requires all drivers to move over one lane passing by any vehicle with flashing or rotating lights parked on the roadside. You will be pulled over for violating this law!
Members aren’t falling for anti-union campaign with far-fetched narrative, promises of big “payoff”
Freedom Foundation is at it again. The anti-union group, under its Ohio pseudonym “Opt Out Ohio,” is kicking off the New Year by spamming OCSEA members’ work email boxes yet again.
In their recent emails, they used what is most likely a fake member anecdote and lies attempting to get members to drop their union. But OCSEA members aren’t falling for it. Many have reported the spam emails, unsubscribed or are just ignoring the propaganda altogether. Others are using it as an opportunity to share the truth about the dangers of union busting with their colleagues.
In one round of spam emails, the extremist group claims that someone named "Nina" is proud of having dropped her union so she can save “X” amount of dollars in union dues a year. “We doubt ‘Nina’ even really exists, but what we DO know is that a union, and the benefits that come with a union voice, is worth its weight in gold. You can’t put a price on that. It’s always better when we do it TOGETHER!” said OCSEA President Chris Mabe.
“I feel sorry for ‘Nina’ that she won’t be able to experience the power that comes with being union and knowing that thousands of brothers and sisters have her back, and she has theirs,” said OCSEA Secretary-Treasurer Kathy Gersper.
Of course, this is hardly OCSEA members’ first bout with the group. The special interest group, funded by wealthy billionaire donors who have a lot to gain, literally, by busting unions, has been at this for years with little to show for it. Behind their "Opt Out Today” smoke screen, the "Freedom" Foundation has spent millions and millions to deceive public employees about their true intentions: dismantling public services, cutting employee wages, and depleting public pensions. They don’t care about you, your family, the size of your paycheck or how union benefits make your life better.
But members like Matt Campbell, an OCSEA member from northeast Ohio, aren’t falling for Freedom Foundation’s lies. Matt says what they are trying to do is obvious. “Everybody has a motive, and Freedom Foundation’s is about weakening unions,” said Matt. “The overarching goal of ‘opting out’ is to break the union. Why do you think they are trying so hard for us to not pay?” he asked. Matt says groups like Freedom Foundation are simply about lining their donors’ back pockets and not looking out for workers.
Matt says the only thing someone might gain from opting out is “being a freeloader,” which means they would get all the benefits of being union off the backs of hard-working union members who pay their fair share.
Matt knows from experience that if the union falls, “it will be so much worse than how bad you think it is now.” Matt says having worked 13 years in the private sector with no union, he sees the union difference. “I guess I just have a different perspective,” said Matt who has now worked for the State of Ohio for another 13 years. “What I had then is nothing compared to what I have now,” he said. That includes a voice when it comes to wages, benefits, schedules, safety at work, leave time and so much more.
As an Environmental Specialist 2 for the Ohio EPA, Matt says he understands firsthand the importance of public service. In emission testing observations, he works hard to make sure our air is safe to breathe, and companies are in compliance with laws that protect us all. It’s public services like these that the Freedom Foundation aims to destroy, because there’s always more money to be made in “self regulation," says Matt, especially when compliance is directly tied to a private entity’s bottom line.
All across Ohio, disingenuous, anti-union organizations like this are worming their way into Ohio politics. These organizations are funded by out-of-state billionaires with an agenda! They lobby for anti-worker bills like Right to Work (for Less) and against collective bargaining rights and prevailing wage. Their aggressive campaigns aim to trick workers into giving up their rights by lying to them.
“It’s an ongoing battle, and they may think they are being sneaky, but we are always watching,” said OCSEA Vice President Rocky Jolly. “And our members are watching too, and they know better!”
Learn more about the Freedom Foundation lies and REAL agenda at OCSEA.org/StopFreedomFoundation.
The REAL anti-union agenda:
Freedom Foundation and Opt Out Ohio propaganda boasts about "liberating" workers from unions. But their real agenda is to paralyze governments, eliminate public jobs, and decrease worker pay and benefits. See their REAL Wish List below or click HERE to learn more:
Members, chapters build support for OCSEA bargaining Team, fair contract
This week, the OCSEA Bargaining Team continues to negotiate with State management. The Team's goals are to get more money in members' pockets, and their strategy has been to focus on the importance of making state employment attractive and to constantly remind management of members' sacrifices. Unfortunately management keeps attacking the union contract instead of focusing on the real meat and potato issues.
OCSEA Vice President Rocky Jolly says that management's strategy isn't deterring the Team but making it stronger. “That’s what we were elected by the members to do. We can multitask, and these proposed takeaways only help us make our case for a fair contract that our members deserve!” said Jolly.
Union members across the state continue to build solidarity for a fair contract. Chapters have decorated union bulletin boards and union offices, placed “Fair Contract” and “I Support My Bargaining Team” signs in their work areas and held chapter events to build solidarity.
“We’ve appreciated the support we’re getting from union members in every corner of the state. That level of support means everything to us and doesn’t go unnoticed,” said Raymond Harker, a Lorain Correction Officer and Bargaining Unit 3 Negotiations Team member.
Ohio Veterans Home Chapter 2200 in Sandusky is excited to spread the word about bargaining. Chapter secretary Kally Vladiff decorated the chapter's bulletin board with the theme, "Your Commitment Makes the Contract." What a perfect sentiment!
State Office Tower Chapter 2545 member Donnella Johnson, a Customer Service Assistant 3 at the Ohio Dept. of Development, shows her Solidarity Wednesday support for the OCSEA Bargaining Team members as they continue to bargain for a fair contract this week.
This week's Fighting To Win billboard campaign focuses on celebrating and protecting 40 years of collective bargaining for OCSEA members in Ohio. Check out the two billboards in downtown Columbus at the corners of Broad and High streets and the corner of State and High streets.
Only through a united front can we show management that their proposed takeaways WILL NOT be tolerated!
That's why every Wednesday throughout bargaining is SOLIDARITY WEDNESDAY! Support for your OCSEA Bargaining Team by wearing OCSEA attire or the color green, at work or at home, every Wednesday through bargaining until we have a fair contract.
Chapters are urged to hold Solidarity events at the workplace or during chapter meetings. Learn more HERE.
Sign up for bargaining alerts: Text OCSEA2024 to 237-263
Union momentum is building despite understaffing and cuts to public sector, report says
Union momentum remains strong, but the need to organize more workers, especially in the public service sector, is clear, reports AFSCME, our national union. Unfortunately, national union membership rates didn't rise last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported this week, underscoring the importance of initiatives like AFSCME’s Staff the Front Lines to fill job vacancies in the public sector.
The good news? The report indicates that the median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers who are members of unions was $1,263, BLS found. This is compared to $1,090 for nonunion workers. That means, over a full year, union members earned nearly $9,000 more than their nonunion counterparts.
Additionally, AFSCME membership grew in 2023, and union momentum continues to accelerate.The number of union members nationwide actually increased by 139,000 in 2023, according to the AFL-CIO, the federation of labor unions that includes AFSCME. Last year, we saw historic worker actions, such as strikes by members of United Auto Workers (UAW), which led to robust labor contracts. To top it off, the annual Gallup survey released around Labor Day 2023 showed more Americans believe that labor unions benefit society and want to see unions’ influence strengthen over time. That's all something to celebrate!
Read more on the Bureau of Labor Statistics report at AFSCME.org.