Letter to the State of Ohio Chapter From President Becky Williams

As you may recall, our Union received a letter from the Ohio Department of Administrative Services on June 1, 2020 asking we “come to the negotiating table before June 15, 2020 to discuss ways to reduce personnel costs.” That vague request didn’t indicate whether they were requesting to open the current contract or begin negotiating our successor agreement.

In response, we sent a letter back to the Director of DAS on behalf of our State of Ohio members. In this letter, it is made clear the service and sacrifice you make daily in the interest of the people of the State of Ohio and that it is the position of our Union that the state needs to find other ways to reduce expenditures rather than ask you to continue to do more with less.

We received a response letter from DAS on June 10, 2020, that read in part, “While we are aware that collective bargaining negotiations for a successor agreement are upcoming, the budget situation for the fiscal year which begins July 1, 2020, is unsustainable. We want to discuss with you cost savings measures that could potentially be taken immediately, within the term of the current collective bargaining agreement.” The letter goes on to describe the cuts they have imposed on workers who do not have the protection of a collective bargaining agreement, like salary reductions, pay freezes, and cost savings days.

Today, we are sending a letter to DAS to express our concerns over their nonchalant approach which suggests you and your families give up your financial security at a time when you should be honored for your heroism. In this letter, we make it clear we oppose the State of Ohio balancing their budget on the backs of our Union members.

In addition to the letter to DAS, we are also sending a letter to the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House calling for them to take immediate action on the following things:

  1. Freeze their own pay immediately.
  2. Allow and compel the Governor to use the nearly $2.7 billion dollars in the rainy day fund to close the budget gap. 
  3. Raise additional revenue through taxes on the wealthiest people and most profitable businesses in our State. 
  4. Close unnecessary, costly tax loopholes that benefit the few at the cost of the rest of us. Put politics and ideology aside and recognize that this is not the time to make drastic, recessive cuts to the state budget. 
  5. We will continue to keep the lines of communication open with DAS and Executive Vice President Josh Norris will participate in a conference call with the State of Ohio to discuss any procedural next steps and to clarify any questions they may have about our request for additional information.

We will continue to keep all Union members updated on the status of these conversations. If you have questions, comments, or feedback please feel free to reach out to your Administrative Organizer or to Josh Norris directly.

This is a time when our collective efforts are our best defense to preserve and protect our rights, wages, and benefits. Call your legislators today, tell them about the vital work that you do to serve the people of Ohio, and demand they keep all options on the table to balance the state budget. You can find your state legislators by clicking here

If you or anyone in your workplace has not yet signed their membership card, please sign your card by clicking here.

In Solidarity, 

Becky Williams, President
SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH

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