Employees of the Williams County, Ohio, Department of Job and Family Services voted to join AFSCME Council 8. (Photo credit: Jeremy Baiman)
Workers continue to defy those who say the labor movement is on the decline. The latest demonstration of that fact happened in Williams County, Ohio, where a solid majority of employees of the Department of Job and Family Services (JFS) just voted to join AFSCME Council 8.
“Management tried every trick in the book to keep us divided, but we held strong and we won,” said Stacy Wilson, a JFS employee and member of the unit’s Organizing Committee.
Balloting was tallied this week by the State Employee Relations Board in Columbus.
Seeking mutual respect and a voice at work, a strong majority of JFS employees filed a petition for a union election this August. “We knew that only by coming together at work and getting to the bargaining table could we make the necessary improvements to our work environment and our service to the community,” said Chris Whitlock, a 13-year veteran of the department.
Instead of respecting the democratic election process, however, Williams County engaged in an aggressive, union-busting campaign. They held meetings and sent memos filled with typical anti-union scare tactics. “How Much Will a Union Cost Me?” read the title of one such memo.
A supervisor even compared the county agency with Hostess Brands, which unfairly blamed its union workforce for having to file for bankruptcy despite a decade of failed management. But employees stuck together despite the strong-arm tactics.
The workers will now elect a bargaining committee and begin negotiation with the county for a first union contract. We hope the county will now recognize that its workers deserve respect and a chance to improve their lives – and the services that they provide their community.