Your union newsletter - May 17, 2023

Posted May 17, 2023 by

Saluting our public Meat Inspectors as we prepare for our summer celebrations

As we head into the summer months, there are a lot of celebrations heading our way. From graduations and Memorial Day to Juneteenth and Fourth of July, there's a lot to celebrate and a lot of time to enjoy with family and friends. That includes lots of grilling, picnics and other food-focused celebrations. But we don't always think about how our celebration foods came to make it onto our plates or what it took to make sure our food is safe to eat. That's where Ohio's public employees come in. Across the state, public employees are making sure our food is healthy and safe, from the growing and processing to so much more.

This includes our 70 public Meat Inspectors across Ohio. Thanks to these OCSEA members, we can have confidence in the meat we buy and cook. Ohio's Meat Inspectors perform their jobs with expertise anywhere food is being processed with red meat or poultry content of 2 percent or more. That means they don’t just inspect meat in slaughter houses. They inspect factories and food programs throughout the state to ensure food safety. “I’ll go from a kill floor, to inspecting pepperoni pizza, or Meals on Wheels,” said Kristina Shanes, an Ohio Dept. of Agriculture Meat Inspector and union steward with Reynoldsburg Chapter 4550. The inspectors also are the ones responsible for doing meat recalls at the state level. They do it all! And we couldn't be more thankful!

Want to learn more about Kristina and her co-workers at the Dept. of Agriculture who keep our food safe? Read the latest edition of the OCSEA magazine at Kristina Shanes is an Ohio Dept. of Agriculture Meat Inspector and union steward with Reynoldsburg Chapter 4550.

Zoombezi Bay: Opening Weekend member deal just announced, plus half off through May 31

The Zoombezi Bay member deals keep coming. Just announced, OCSEA members can get $19.99 tickets to the water park's Opening Weekend, this weekend. That's more than half off the gate price. Tickets can be purchased all this week through this Sunday, with tickets VALID May 20 or 21 only (limit of 6 tickets per transaction).

Can't make it this weekend? OCSEA members can also get half off tickets to the water park through May 31. That's $21 per ticket (limit 6). Half price tickets are valid for entry June 1 through June 30, only. And don't forget, not only does your ticket grant you admission to Zoombezi Bay, but it also includes free access to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium during Zoo operating hours.

Don't want to go to the water park? Check out the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium discount tickets at the button below too. There is a nearly $13 savings on adult general admission. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Membership rates are also discounted for OCSEA members.

See All Ticket Deals at (login required).

Promote member-only discounts on union bulletin boards

The May Union Bulletin Board Network (UBBN) flyers include tons of information on member-only discounts and perks. Make sure to check them out at This includes the JUST ADDED Zoombezi Bay discount flyer. Please share with union co-workers. 

Chapters are urged to place UBBN flyers on their workplace bulletin boards, where applicable, and distribute at meetings. This is a great way to promote many of the benefits that being union has to offer! This month's virtual flyers include:

  • Zoombezi Bay JUST ADDED!!!!!!
  • Other discounts and perks, including Kings Island, Cedar Point, AAA and more
  • Union Education Trust benefits
  • June 3 OCSEA Steward Conference
  • AFSCME's I AM STORY podcast.

Any chapter that needs assistance with printing flyers should contact the OCSEA mailroom at 614-865-4733 or

Download UBBN flyers with member-only discounts, benefits and more.

There's still time to register for June 3 Steward Conference

Just a reminder! The OCSEA Steward Conference will take place on Saturday, June 3 at the Polaris Hilton Columbus. This in-person training (with a Zoom option) is open to ALL members. There is still time to register at

Need to book an overnight for this conference? The Polaris Hilton Columbus is full; however, there is an overflow hotel at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Columbus/Polaris (across from OCSEA Union Hall) at 9000 Worthington Road, Westerville, Ohio 43082. Contact at 614-568-0770 and ask for the OCSEA room rate ($109 plus tax). Book immediately if you require a room and these spots will fill up quickly as well.

For those interested in attending one of the steward trainings on Friday, June 2, please note that the in-person trainings are full. But not to worry! There are still virtual slots available for both the Advanced Steward Training and the Basic Steward Training. Both trainings will be live-streamed over Zoom from 6-9 p.m. that evening. If you still would like to attend a virtual training, please indicate on your registration form that you plan to attend the training over Zoom. Please note: it's perfectly fine to attend the training on Zoom Friday night and the Conference in person the next day on Saturday. Just indicate how you plan to attend on your registration form. Both the training and the conference count toward steward certification and recertification.

Learn more and see the conference agenda at

Check your benefits! State Open Enrollment ends May 24

The State of Ohio benefits Open Enrollment period wraps up next Wednesday, May 24. This includes enrollment in and updates to health care coverage for State employees and those family members covered under their plan. This also includes enrollment in Union Benefits Trust (UBT) dental, vision, the legal service plan, voluntary benefits, basic and supplemental life insurance benefits for union-represented employees. It's important to double check both health care and UBT benefits to make sure that your coverage is correct and up-to-date. This also includes checking that beneficiaries are up to date.

The Open Enrollment period is an important time for the union because we've fought to maintain and protect these benefits for 30 years. That's why OCSEA is diligent about making sure members know what is available to them during the enrollment timeframe. Over the years, union members negotiating the OCSEA Contract have worked hard to provide health care options. Two of the three health plans offered by the State of Ohio are negotiated by the union: the Ohio Med Narrow Network Plan and the Ohio Med PPO. The high deductible plan IS NOT negotiated by the union, but is still given as an option. Additionally, the Union Benefits Trust benefits are bargained and maintained directly by union members.

"As a union, OCSEA wants members to know that they do have choices when it comes to their health care. That's why it's so important that we spread the word and make sure we all get educated about these options available to us and decide what plan is best for each of us and our families," said OCSEA activist and Joint Health Care Committee member Matt Tyack who is employed at the Industrial Commission.

Nationwide, a union voice is still very powerful when it comes to securing and protecting essential health care benefits for members. An astonishing 94 percent of union workers have access to employer-sponsored health care benefits, as compared to just 68 percent of nonunion workers. Being union has real value, and affordable health care over a lifetime is proof right there!

Legislative update: Protecting the voices and rights of workers, all Ohioans

One Person One Vote Campaign launches

The One Person One Vote campaign launched last week, and OCSEA is on board with all of Ohio's labor groups to defeat House Joint Resolution 1/Senate Joint Resolution 2 (HJR 1/SJR 2). The proposals before voters on August 8 would upend majority rule in Ohio by increasing the threshold to pass citizens-led ballot initiatives to 60 percent instead of the current 50 percent +1. The coalition, made up of over 240 groups, including nearly every labor union in Ohio and many other nonpartisan groups, supports the democratic principle of “one person one vote.” Learn more at

Additionally, the One Person One Vote coalition has filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the $20 million August special election "being held at the behest of special interests." August elections have “embarrassingly low” turnout and are bad for taxpayers, election officials, voters, and the civic health of our state, said the coalition. Additionally, just five months ago, the General Assembly specifically prohibited all statewide special elections in August.

“The question every voter should be asking themselves is––why August, when there was already an election scheduled for November? The answer is simple: because that’s what special interests wanted. Special interests spent millions lobbying for an August election––which will cost taxpayers $20 million––specifically because that’s when turnout is the lowest. This is an illegal special election for special interests. Period,” declared the One Person One Vote coalition.

Dangerous dental bill is back

As we mentioned last week, the State legislature's harmful dental legislation is back in both houses of the General Assembly. This session, the dangerous dental legislation can be found in Senate Bill 115 and House Bill 160. If passed, the dental bill would give dentists the freedom to charge Ohioans, including OCSEA members, whatever they want for non-covered dental services. Not only would it increase dental costs for OCSEA members and families covered under the Union Benefits Trust (your dental administrator), it would increase costs for EVERY Ohioan who has dental insurance.

We continue to watch for any movement on the dental bills. Stay tuned here for updates and actions around protecting your dental benefits.

Public university employees' collective bargaining rights under attack

Not only are extreme Ohio lawmakers trying to tell public university and college staff how they should do their jobs, they are also trying desperately to silence their voices on the job by weakening the collective bargaining rights of faculty members and everyone who works at our local colleges and universities.

"They weren’t around when we came together to fight for collective bargaining rights and against Senate Bill 5 in 2011," wrote We Are Ohio in a press release this week. Referring to the bills' creators, Sen. Jerry Cirino and state Rep. Steve Demetriou, We Are Ohio wrote: "Maybe both lawmakers could use a course in how not to kick the hornet’s nest that are frontline public servants in this state."

Hearings on both bills are scheduled for this week. Cirino’s Sub. SB 83 could see an Ohio Senate floor vote today, Wednesday. Demetriou’s equally bad bill, HB 151, will have a hearing only. Cirino’s statehouse office number is 614-644-7718 and Demetriou’s statehouse office at 614-644.5088. Contact these legislators and tell them to leave public union rights alone!