Focus on Fact Finding: What you need to know moving forward

Posted Apr. 8, 2024 by

Posted March 27, 2024

What to know about the Fact-Finding process and contract voting

A Fact-Finding hearing was held over multiple days, during the week of March 18, 2024, bringing the union and state team’s together in front of Fact Finder Tom Nowell. For public employees in Ohio, the Ohio Revised Code dictates that when the parties are at an impasse during contract negotiations, a third-party Fact Finder is brought in to decide outstanding issues.


During the hearing, management and the union presented their case regarding the contract articles still open (see last week’s Bargaining Update). But even though the hearing is over, the Fact-Finding process does not conclude until the Fact Finder issues his/her report.


Currently, the parties are preparing written briefs laying out their arguments, including any exhibits, data, documents and witness statements. Union and management have until April 26 to complete their written briefs and submit them to the Fact Finder.


After that, the Fact Finder will consider all the evidence and write a written “Report and Recommendation.” There is no date yet regarding when the Fact Finder will issue his report.


Once the Fact Finder’s Report is issued, OCSEA union members will have 21 days to ratify the Tentative Agreement and the Fact Finder’s Report.


While it is likely to be many weeks before contract voting occurs, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Once the Fact Finder’s Report is issued, OCSEA and the union Bargaining Team will hold Online Roadshow Sessions via Zoom (in the interest of time) to talk about the Tentative Agreement, the Fact Finder’s Report and contract voting.
  • The Tentative Agreement and the Fact Finder’s Report will be sent to members’ personal emails and will be made available on the OCSEA website.
  • Voting will be done in-person and will take place at the chapter level only.
  • Only dues-paying OCSEA members can vote on the contract.
  • It is up to each chapter to set up their voting schedules once the contract voting “window” is established.
  • Ballots are not sent to members’ homes but are only available through the chapter.

What's Fact Finding again?

Fact Finding is a LAST RESORT in bargaining because there is no more negotiations and no more give and take. In Fact Finding, the union and management give evidence and testimony and present witnesses in a hearing before a third-party arbitrator. It's up to the Fact Finder to make the final decision. The Fact Finder may side with management or they may side with the union, or they may split the baby. The point is, there is no more negotiations once the sides are at impasse. And the Fact Finder’s decision is final.