OEA Workers Begin Striking
By Julie Robison
News Bureau Reporter
Columbus— Members of the Professional Staff Union (PSU), employees of the Ohio Education Association (OEA), are striking outside OEA Headquarters in Columbus and its 25 regional offices around the state starting today.
Bargaining began May 20 and by midnight last night, the contracts were not renewed. PSU members voted for a Strike Authorization on August 2 and, as of 12:01 a.m., the strike began.
Picketers arrived at 8 a.m. Headquarters in downtown Columbus had 30 people. The number has fluctuated throughout the day
Amber Kirkwood, the Vice President of Communication of the Professional Staff Union and the Media Contact, says that there are 109 employees currently on strike. There are 220 OEA employees total.
They are interested in health care benefits, workload, job security and pensions. Kirkwood expressed interest in a “fair and equitable contract that is mindful of union values.” After all, she says, “We work for a union.”
OEA’s sister organization, the Ohio Associate Staff Union, reached an agreement with OEA management late Monday afternoon. Its website says, “We remain our course of Solidarity for our Professional Staff Union Brothers and Sisters until they reach a TA as well!”
PSU’s press release says “A federal mediator has assisted the talks since early July. The union filed an unfair labor practice charge in July with the National Labor Relations Board over the union’s claim that OEA was refusing to negotiate.”
OEA President Patricia Frost-Brooks said in a statement, "We are disappointed we could not complete negotiations before the PSU contract expired. OEA is ready to meet at any time to resolve our remaining issues."
The OEA workers last went on strike in 1997. Kirkwood says they will picket everyday until an agreement is made.