A group of Ohio public employees this month managed to successfully kick their union to the curb. The question now is whether it learned anything from the experience.
Earlier this year the Freedom Foundation received calls from numerous workers employed by the Allen County Department of Jobs and Family Services Office seeking assistance in not just freeing themselves from their union, but to completely abolish it at their workplace.
Callers shared their horror stories, explaining how “pointless their union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 4319, has been for them and their colleagues for years.”
Another employee asserted, “(T)he union has failed to properly represent them on the county level,” and comments were even made about “the difficulty in finding a single soul interested in serving as a union steward.”
For years, the bargaining unit representing about 50 people had been represented by CWA Local 4319, but once workers began reaching out to the Freedom Foundation for help, we went straight to work providing them guidance in the decertification process.
Current state law doesn’t provide public employees with the ability to regularly vote on their union representation. Instead, the employees must initiate an election by gathering signature cards calling for a vote. All the signatures and paperwork must typically be submitted during a 30-day window period. If successful, the State Employee Relations Board (SERB) will conduct an election.
After gathering the necessary signatures, the group of employees submitted a petition, and about a month later SERB conducted a mail-ballot election during the polling period of Aug. 4-18, 2020.
Of the 43 votes cast, 14 were in support of CWA 4319, while 26 workers voted against union representation.
SERB officially certified the vote against CWA Local on Sept. 24, thereby affirming the employees had chosen to have no exclusive representation for purposes of collective bargaining.
There was no appeal.
Even though the employees at Allen County Department of Jobs and Family Services are no longer suffering the frustrations of the union, all of them are still covered by an array of workplace protections and will continue receiving all of the benefits they had been receiving.
This means their salary, retirement, health and education benefits will all remain the same. This also goes for raises, though this group has proven it’s far better off negotiating for a pay increase on its own behalf.
While this local agency was able to decertify its union, much more needs to be done to give public employees more control over their workplace representation.
The Freedom Foundation will continue to educate and empower public workers about their rights and freedom to decide what’s best for them.