Ohio Public Employees

SEIU District 1199’s Public division represents nearly 5,000 workers. These workers are employed in a variety of fields including higher education, Head Start programs, community action agencies, county government, and libraries.

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Update on OPERS Cuts


Convention Delegation Election Results

Elections for the Delegation to the SEIU 2020 Convention were held between January 1st and January 31st. The final results are listed at this link. The Executive Board Caucus Slate will represent SEIU/District 1199 at the Convention in Chicago, Illinois, April 24-27, 2020. Congratulations to all Union Sisters and Brothers who received votes.

College Programs for Union Members

SEIU District 1199 offers discounts for members and eligible family members through arrangements with colleges. These programs include a range of benefits with Columbia Southern University, Southern New Hampshire University, Central State University, and Eastern Gateway Community College. 

Membership with SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH provides access to the member benefit programs detailed below. You can sign a membership card online at this link.

Free College Benefit SEIU District 1199
Ohio’s Eastern Gateway Community CollegeEastern Gateway offers a free online Associate’s Degree college benefit for members and retirees, in addition to eligible family members. If you live near Youngstown or Steubenville, you can also can participate in this program and take classes on campus. 

Ohio’s Central State University. Union Plus, one of your Union’s member benefit programs, has partnered with Central State University in Dayton, Ohio. Central State University is now offering a program for Bachelor’s Degrees for members and eligible family members. This program is available online at a reduced cost or low/no cost (e.g. depending on grants). The program is open to students with an Associate’s Degree or 60 credit hours of coursework in a related major. Additionally, students who have a degree from Eastern Gateway Community College can now transfer into the Bachelor’s Degree program at Central State University. 

Southern New Hampshire UniversitySNHU offers Bachelor’s Degrees and Associate’s Degrees for $3,000 a year for members and eligible family members.

Columbia Southern UniversityColumbia Southern offers Associate’s Degrees, Bachelor’s Degrees, Mater’s Degrees, and Doctoral Degrees. SEIU District 1199 has a tuition discount agreement for members. 

If you need assistance with your member benefits or a workplace issue, you can always contract the Member Resource Center. “Your Member Resource Center Has Your Back!”

Basic Grievance Chair Training in Huntington


Spread the Love Peanut Butter Drive

Spread the Love Peanut Butter Drive 1.30.20
1 in 5 children live at risk of hunger. With your help – we can spread love and hope to children and families in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio.

Please bring in a jar of peanut butter or other shelf-stable alternative and give it to your delegate, executive board member, or organizer. We will combine your donation with donations from our co-workers and deliver those to Head Start children and families in need.

SEIU District 1199 Members Endorse Avon Library Levy Issue 12

Last week, members with SEIU District 1199 voted to endorsed Issue 12, a levy for the Avon Library, which is a part of the Lorain Public Library System. This 2-mill levy would increase the current levy by .8 mill and is needed for branch expansion and to make improvements. 

SEIU District 1199 has represented members with the Lorain Public Library System since 1987. Issue 12 will be on the ballot in Avon on March 17, 2020. 

Cleveland Library Workers Stand United for Improved Staffing and to Stop Outsourcing, Issue 10-Day Strike Notice

Workers at Cleveland Public Library say taxpayers approved increases in taxes in order to support programs and services for the community, not to give massive pay increases and bonuses to top executives.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – Today, Union Librarians, Library Assistants, Clerks, Custodians, maintenance workers, and a wide range of support staff at the Cleveland Public Library have issued a 10-day notice of their intent to strike after months of negotiations with top executives have failed to yield a fair contract that respects the dignity of their work and supports the public services they provide.  Instead, proposals by Cleveland Public Library administration would outsource Cleveland jobs, and make it more difficult for front line staff that is already stretched to provide valuable services and programs to the community.

“My co-workers and I are committed to providing the best possible service to the people of our community.  We are dedicated professionals who care deeply about our neighbors,” said Debbie Hajzak, an Outreach and Programming Services Project Coordinator for the Library and Member Vice President with SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH. “We have done everything we can to avoid going on strike, but enough is enough.  We can no longer stand by while the executives of “The People’s University” line their own pockets at the expense of the public.  We are standing up for the work we do and for the service we provide to our community. We will not allow the Library to replace dedicated public servants with volunteers, outsource work, and continue to add executive positions while they keep frontline and support staffing at a bare minimum at best.”

Despite voters giving overwhelming approval to Issue 60 in 2017, the recent levy campaign in support of library services and programs, Cleveland Public Library has used those resources to give massive pay increases and huge bonuses to their top executives, in addition to luxurious benefit packages. At the same time, more than 100 bargaining unit positions have been eliminated over the past 10 years, leaving most library workers doing double- and triple-duty in service to the community as demand for library programs and services continues to increase. 

“The Cleveland Public Library went to the citizens of Cleveland to ask for an increase in millage and the residents supported this levy increase overwhelmingly, and in return library executives have chosen to give large payouts to top administrators, many of whom are not residents of Cleveland. Library executives continue to ignore the needs of the hard-working people that make this library the Five Star premiere organization that this administration so often boasts about,” said Erick Walker, a Senior Subject Department Clerk at the Cleveland Public Library and Executive Board Member with SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH. “Taxpayers approved increases in taxes in order to support the services we provide to our neighbors and our community, but instead Cleveland Public Library executives have shifted their priorities from public service to self-service.  It’s time they get their priorities straight.”

With a vote of support from bargaining unit members of SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH at the Cleveland Public Library, notice has been served to library executives and the State Employees Relations Board (SERB) that unless an agreement can be reached, workers will be on strike beginning at 12:00 pm on February 4th, 2020. With only one bargaining session remaining on Thursday, January 23, workers remain willing to meet up to the day of the strike, and after, if necessary. 

To ease the burden on striking library workers, the Executive Board of SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH voted to increase strike benefits to offset some of the cost of lost wages for bargaining unit members who work shifts on the picket line outside of each of the 28 strike locations. 

Cleveland Public Library plans to spend up to $175,000 on lawyers and propaganda to further discredit the dedicated workers of the Cleveland Public Library, but the people of Cleveland stand with library workers. 

Take Action – Stand With Cleveland Public Library Workers

The women and men who work at the Cleveland Public Library proudly serve our neighborhoods and community every day, providing vital resources, services and information for people like us. However, decisions by Cleveland Public Library executives have eroded staffing, increased workloads and ignored the concerns of employees about safety at branches throughout the city. 

Take Action to Stand With Cleveland Public Library Workers 

1. Contact Cleveland Public Library. Call the library at 216-623-2827 and leave a Message for Executive Director Felton Thomas Jr. and the Cleveland Public Library Board of Trustees. Ask them to bargain in good faith for a contract that keeps everyone safe and respects the dignity of their work. 

2. Tweet to Show Your Support. Tweet these two messages of support to stand with Cleveland Public Library workers. 

3. Write a Letter to the Editor. Submit a letter to the Cleveland Plain Dealer to stand with SEIU District 1199 members who are fighting for a fair contract with the Cleveland Public Library. Make letters clear, concise, and under 200 words. Letters can be submitted at this link. A post with details on bargaining is also available here. 

4. Sign the Petition. Submit your name in support of the SEIU District 1199 members with the Cleveland Public Library. Sign the petition here

5. Share Social Media Posts. Visit the Facebook and Twitter pages for SEIU District 1199 and share recent posts to stand in support with the library workers. 

Get The Facts – Cleveland Public Library Workers Are Fighting For Safety, Fairness, and Union Jobs

Fact: Though the library system continually claims that their Union members are overpaid, Cleveland Public Library CEO Felton Thomas Jr.’s salary increased from $183,983.72 to $220,000 with the start of a new employment agreement on January 1, 2019. CEO Felton Thomas Jr. also received at the time the agreement was reached a $10,000 bonus. Additionally, CEO Felton Thomas Jr.’s 5-year contract guarantees 5% annual wage increases. In addition to other perks, COO Jeremiah Swetel will also receive a $50,000 bonus in 2024 under his employment contract that was approved in September 2019. A recent news report detailed that in addition to CEO Felton Thomas, 11 other managers with the library system earn between $119,000 and $143,000 a year.

Fact: Cleveland Public Library has paid $100,000 in taxpayer dollars for legal services from an anti-union law firm. The library is now proposing spending an additional $75,000 for such services in relation to ongoing negotiations

Fact: Union members with the Cleveland Public Library have been requesting bargaining dates since early 2019 and have been ready to meet throughout the year. Bargaining committee members report that the library was resistant to scheduling bargaining dates and did not allow for enough dates. To members of the bargaining committee, working without a contract and the potential need to strike is concerning, as they have been willing to do anything needed to negotiate.

Fact: Workers with Cleveland Public Library have a number of security concerns that are based on the realities of their work. Workers have seen firsthand serious threats such as violence and other activity that has occurred both inside and around branch locations. 

Fact: The most significant concerns of workers with Cleveland Public Library are not based on economics. Workers are standing together to ensure adequate staffing and good union jobs for the community, in addition to security and safety for library employees and patrons.

Fact: While security and safety are issues of high importance to library workers, the library system recently began a 10-year $100M capital improvement plan. Cleveland Voters approved Issue 60 in 2017, which included a tax increase of 2-mill. Branch renovations are important but the safety of patrons and library workers and other issues brought forward by the bargaining committee should be overriding.

Fact: Cleveland Public Library leaders are now publicly discussing the potential impact of a strike – bargaining committee members are concerned that this will be used to harm the perceptions of the dedicated workers with the library system. Members of the negotiating committee have been willing to continue negotiations into the evening and late into the night but negotiations have concluded promptly. A strike is always a last resort but workers are weighing if it may be necessary. 

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SEIU Convention Delegation Elections

Elections regarding the 2020 SEIU Convention will take place throughout the month of January. All elections will be conducted by secret ballot. Members presenting proper identification may vote at any of the voting sites across the District. 

Voting will be held in the Union’s Columbus, Cleveland, and Huntington Offices, as noted on the schedule. A list with all voting times and locations is available here

We Rise – Update Your Membership

An updated membership helps to ensure that our chapters and Union remain strong. We are stronger together.

Sign a Membership Card
The membership form is available online.  Membership also provides access to the Union’s benefit programs, a free community college benefit, an annual scholarship program, and more. 

Visit the membership form online to submit a new membership or update/renew. 

Solidarity News – December 2019

Solidarity Newsletter Cleveland Community School District Member Wins Grievance Over Work Distribution. A member with the CMSD was having difficulty at work with the way assignments were being distributed in regards to heavy shipments of frozen food items. She worked with the Union to file a grievance. As a result of the grievance, the school district agreed to follow up with the area supervisor and affected employees to make sure that work was distributed equally.

Dedicated Member With ResCare in West Virginia Returns to Work. A member in Kanawha County who works for ResCare (“BrightSpring”) believed he had been improperly terminated and worked with the Union to file a grievance. Through this process, the member was awarded his job back. He received 5 weeks of back pay and restoration of PTO time and seniority.

Job Dismissal Overturned After Grievance. A highly dedicated member had worked for a hospital in Southern Ohio for nearly 20 years. The member was dismissed from their position due to a claim of absenteeism and tardiness. Through the grievance process, the member showed that the absences were due to circumstances that fit within an exception in the attendance policy. 

Member With St. Vincent Charity Medical Center Receives Settlement. A member with St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland was dismissed. While Ohio is generally an “at-will” employment state, the Union contract meant that the employer had to show “just cause.” Though the Union was prepared to take the case to mediation, the employer proposed a $3,000 settlement, which was mutually agreeable to both parties.

Mercy Regional Medical Center Member Awarded Full-Time Position. A member with MRMC in Lorain, Ohio, had been working full-time hours as a PRN for three years with no benefits or offer for a full-time position. The member worked with the Union to file a grievance and was quickly hired into a full-time position in a favorable outcome. 

SEIU District 1199 Member Benefits 
Membership with SEIU District 1199 includes membership with three member benefit programs. Those programs include Union Plus, SEIU Member Benefits, and the SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH Membership Card. Last month, Union Plus announced a new college program with Central State University in Dayton, Ohio, which is a benefit available for members and eligible family members. For details visit: seiu1199.org/mrc/your-benefits-as-a-member

Member Resource Center Update
The Member Resource Center provides assistance each day to a substantial number of members across West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. Whether you need a copy of your contract, assistance contacting Union staff, or advice on how to file a grievance, representatives with the Member Resource Center are standing by to assist members each Monday through Friday. “Your Member Resource Center Has Your Back!”

SEIU District 1199 Members at Tri-C Provide Vital Campus Services

Cleveland library employees remember shooting victim, share branch safety concerns (News 5 Cleveland WEWS)


Candlelight Vigil for Cleveland Public Library Staff, Patrons, and Visitors

Vigil CPL
You are invited to join the Union Workers of the Cleveland Public Library as we hold a candlelight vigil for the safety and security of everyone who enters our library branches.

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019
6:00pm – Gathering
7:00pm – Candlelight Vigil

South Brooklyn Branch of the Cleveland Public Library
4303 Pearl Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44109

We will join together in solidarity to call on library executives and community leaders to bargain in good faith with the members of SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH at the Cleveland Public Library for a contract that keeps everyone safe and respects the dignity of their work.

Members of the community are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Update on the “Freedom Foundation”

Freedom Foundation 1Freedom Foundation 3Freedom Foundation 4

If the Freedom Foundation contacts you, take these steps to fight back:

  1. Visit We Are Ohio to read about the Freedom Foundation and stay updated.
  2. If you receive an email, forward it to media@seiu1199.org and let your local union leadership know.
  3. If approached by Freedom Foundation canvassers, either at work or at home, don’t sign anything and ask them to remove you from their lists.
  4. Reach out to other union members and let them know.

We will continue to update you about this group’s anti-union activity. 

Veterans Day 2019 – Thank You

We thank all veterans for their dedication to our country. On Behalf of SEIU District 1199 and our staff, thank you to all veterans and their families for your service and sacrifice. If you are a member and a veteran, please join our new SEIU District 1199 Veterans Council

SEIU Members Endorse Levy Renewal for Lorain Public Library

Member leaders with SEIU District 1199 have voted to endorse the renewal levy for the Lorain Public Library System in Columbia Township. The 5-year levy renewal will mean no increase in taxes and is needed to continue to meet expenses. The levy renewal will be on the November 5th ballot. SEIU District 1199 has represented members with the library system for many years. 

SEIU Members Endorse Tri-C Levy

Tri-CThe SEIU District 1199 Executive Board has endorsed the levy for Cuyahoga County Community College. The levy is needed to keep education affordable and accessible and will be on the November 5th ballot. SEIU District 1199 has represented staff members at Tri-C for 1982.