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School support staff in Ohio county end strike after ratifying a fair contract offer

Photo credit: Andres Becerra.
School support staff in Ohio county end strike after ratifying a fair contract offer
By Pete Levine ·
Tags: Momentum Wages

After a 12-day strike, OAPSE/AFSCME Local 51 members in southeastern Ohio have overwhelmingly ratified a tentative agreement with their employer, Morgan Local Schools, and resumed work.

The new contract brings fair raises for 100 bus drivers, aides, mechanics, custodians, maintenance workers, food service employees and secretaries.

The contract includes 14% in raises over its three years, as well as yearly step increases. Striking Local 51 members voted 71-17 to approve the new wage package, which is retroactive to July 2022, when the last contract expired.

The workers, who serve 1,650 students and their families, returned to work on Monday, having walked off the job on March 1.

An earlier proposal by the management of the public school system in Morgan County failed to bring workers anywhere near parity with neighboring districts. After working without a contract since July 2022, workers struck.

Inflation has been pushing many Morgan Local Schools workers and their families to the brink. Some nearby districts pay as much as $9 more per hour for the same job, according to OAPSE.

OAPSE members were upset that the school district was pushing them to the point of walking off the job.

“These kids are so important to us. We don’t want to be away from them. We just want fairness,” said Brenda Roberts, a cook.

The superintendent, who received a 14.4% raise last year, earns $143,000 annually. According to Local 51 President Tom Quaintance, members earn an average annual salary of $23,500. Nestled the mountainous Appalachian region, Morgan is among the poorest of Ohio’s counties.

At a rally late last month, more than 200 students, parents and community members showed their strong support for the members of Local 51.

The strikers appreciated the help from members of OAPSE, other AFSCME locals in Ohio, AFSCME Retirees, and staff from the International Union, who came to Morgan County to stand in solidarity on the picket lines. Supporters raised $20,000 for the strike fund, which was key because the school district canceled the strikers’ health insurance while they were on work stoppage.

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