Note: This story appears in the Thursday, Jan. 9 newspaper on Page A1.
Nearly a month after Ohio University’s classified staff presented a request to OU President Duane Nellis to be recognized as a union, the two groups have not yet reached an agreement. They plan to meet again on Jan. 14.
This group of more than 500 university employees includes clerical staff, administrative assistants and others — the majority of which support unionizing. The classified staff initially requested a response from Ohio University by Jan. 2.
Steve Roth, state director of organizing for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 8 said that he anticipated a delay in the process.
“We knew there’d be a lull during the holidays,” he said. “We’ve had dialogues with Michael Courtney, the university’s associate general counsel, and we’ve agreed on this new meeting date. They’re open to sitting down and talking about what the bargaining looks like.”
Though Roth is unsure of the outcome, he speculates that it’s possible the two parties could come to an agreement. Most importantly, he said, the classified staff remains energized.
“The group is solid and moving forward,” he said. “They’re starting to function as a regular local union, even as we’re still working things out.”
Unionization seemed imminent after a rough meeting between the President and Vice President of the OU Board of Trustees and all of OU’s Faculty Senate. The meeting was also attended by students and staff, including some classified staff, and attendees voiced hopes of receiving answers for their numerous budget- and job-related questions.
They were not given those answers, and were instead faced with boiler plate answers Scholl and other upper administration have given for a number of months.
Julie White, a political science professor and vice president of the OU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said shortly after the meeting that she believes if faculty were to organize, “now would be the time, following that meeting.”
OU faculty members at this time remain without a union, as the OU chapter of the AAUP is only an advocacy group and is not a union chapter. Leaders of the OU AAUP have reached out to other chapters in Ohio, such as the University of Dayton’s chapter, to learn more about unionization tactics.