Local 791-Ohio Turnpike
Unity of Part-Time,
The Local 791 bargaining committee
that reached an agreement with the Ohio Turnpike Committee for full-time workers. From
left, Sherri Nelson, John Arvai (in the back), Eileen Ginley, Gary Coon, Donna Antos and
Juanita Wright. (Not pictured are Mike Haynes and Jim Roudebush.)
Ohio Turnpike workers, members of UE Local 791, have negotiated and
approved two new three-year contracts one covering 600 full-time toll collectors
and maintenance workers, the other covering 290 part-time toll collectors. Both agreements
provide 3 percent wage increases each year.
Local 791 made gains in the Turnpike Commissions recognition of the
unity of both groups of workers, through provisions that strengthen the grievance
procedure and allow the union more freedom to properly represent its members. Most
significantly, the expiration dates for the full-time and part-time contracts, which had
been 18 months apart, will now be just two months apart greatly increasing the
locals ability to act as one union.
One of the more difficult issues confronting UE negotiators arose from the
Commissions plan to change the way the money taken in by each toll collector is
counted up, reconciled with the transactions for the shift, and prepared for bank deposit.
The Commission plans a new system that it says would eliminate the need for toll
collectors to "check-out" and prepare bank deposits at the end of each shift.
Under the Ohio Public Employee Bargaining Act, the Turnpike has the right,
without bargaining, to make such changes in methods of operation, but must bargain over
pay issues. The contract had provided that toll collectors working exit lanes get paid 30
minutes overtime per shift for "check-in" and "check-out." Turnpike
negotiators wanted this provision out of the contract.
The union committee strongly resisted this change. But the union also knew
that if the issue went before a state fact-finder, it may be hard to win the argument that
workers should get paid for work they may no longer be performing. Local 791 also knew
from past experience that fact-finders side with management on most issues. So with time
running out on bargaining, UE negotiators told Turnpike representatives that if they
wanted to remove the check-out provision, theyd have to pay for it.
The agreement reached on this issue says the "check-out"
provision will remain in effect until June 30, 1999, and then expire. Full-time toll
collectors will receive a $2,000 bonus on July 1, 1999 and a $2,000 bonus on July 1, 2000.
Maintenance workers will get $1,000 on July 1, 1999 and $500 on July 1, 2000.
Early retirement will be offered for a 15-month period starting July 1;
the Turnpike Commission will "buy" three additional years of service, under the
Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, for any employee who would thus be eligible to
retire and who chooses to retire. Workers opting for the early retirement buyout will not
receive the cash bonuses.
Also in exchange for the check-out provision, the Commission agreed that
starting next year, 25 percent of all full-time toll schedules will include two weekends
off per month. Currently most collectors get only one weekend off per month; the
two-weekend schedules will be awarded by seniority when workers annually bid on schedules.
Toll collectors will continue to be paid at time and a half for all work
over eight hours. Therefore if the Commissions new toll system doesnt work as
planned, and workers must stay past the end of the shift while supervisors complete the
new check out procedure, the workers will continue to get overtime pay.
PART TIMERS ADVANCE
Part-time toll collectors had been working without a contract since their
first agreement expired July 1, 1997. Following a bargaining impasse, a state fact-finder
conducted a hearing on the part-time contract issues. When the fact-finders
recommendations failed to address part-timers concerns, the workers voted in August
1997 to reject his report. Despite a union campaign of informational picketing and other
actions, the Turnpike Commission still refused to budge, and in the fall of 1997 part-time
members decided that their best bet was to wait for full-time negotiations in late 1998.
The Turnpike had stubbornly opposed UEs efforts, starting in 1992,
to bring the unorganized part-time workers into the union. With legal stalling tactics the
Commission delayed the vote for a year and a half, until March 1994. Although UE won that
vote, the Commission apparently clung to the hope that it could eventually eliminate the
union among the part timers.
During the 1997 talks, the Commission committed a series of unfair labor
practices. It fired a part-time chief steward, stopped the union from posting
legally-required notices of the fact-finding vote and published a series of "fact
sheets" urging workers to decertify the union, among other illegal acts. After the
State Employment Relations Board issued complaints for these violations, the Commission
and union negotiated settlements to end the unfair labor practices.
But there was no part-time contract, and in a session as late as Dec. 8,
1998, the Turnpike offered a worse package to the part-timers than it had offered
Negotiators for Local 791s full-time workers decided that they could
not settle their contract and leave part-time workers out in the cold. January 29 was the
last day of bargaining on the full-time contract; both sides agreed that if they
couldnt reach agreement then, they were going to fact finding. Late that evening,
with the full-time agreement nearly resolved, the two sides discussed and reached an
agreement in principle on a contract for the part timers.
The part-time contract will expire March 1, 2002, while the full-time
agreement runs until Jan. 1, 2002. Part-time workers get a 3 percent raise each year, and
those whose service goes back to July 1, 1997 will get a bonus of $100 or $50 on July 1,
1999 (depending on number of hours worked in 1998.)
Part-time workers will for the first time be covered by a fair share
provision, by which all must either be members of the union or pay the union an equivalent
service fee. The grievance procedure is simplified, and stewards and chief stewards from
the full-time bargaining unit will be able to represent part-time workers on grievances.
In a step that recognizes the unity of all Local 791 members, the
Commission agreed that the union may designate part-time workers to serve on the
Labor-Management Relations Committee and on the joint Safety and Health Committee.
OTHER FULL-TIME CHANGES
Vacation scheduling was improved for full-time workers. The percentage of
toll collectors at each toll plaza who may take vacation at the same time is increased
from 15 to 18 percent. Maintenance workers who take multiple vacation periods in a year
will choose up to four such selections by seniority, instead of just two. Toll collectors
requesting "H-days" (paid days off to make up for working a holiday) will get a
response within three days of the request; delayed responses had been a problem.
The grievance procedure is improved by allowing 10 days for the filing of
any grievance; allowing the local president (as well as stewards) to file a general
grievance affecting multiple members, and allowing the president to represent a member at
any step. The number of days allowed Local 791 for executive board members to attend
meetings is increased from 60 per year to 70. The union may have an officer on a full-time
union leave for a year, renewable for up to two additional years, starting in the year
2000. The Commission will promptly notify the local president of any accident resulting in
an employee death or life-threatening injury.
Summer overtime procedure for maintenance workers are spelled out. Hours
not actually worked (sick leave etc.) will not count in determining when overtime pay
begins, but workers will continue to receive time and a half when ordered to work on any
day other than a normal or scheduled workday.
The UE full-time negotiating committee consisted of President Sherri
Nelson and Chief Stewards Donna Antos, John Arvai, Gary Coon, Eileen Ginley, Mike
Haynes, Juanita Wright and Jim Roudebush. The part-time negotiating committee
included President Nelson and Chief Stewards Lane Shafer and Cathy Herrlich.
Also serving on the part-time committee in 1997 were Burt Blue, Pat Blanchard, and Mary
Lou Ivan. The committees were assisted by Field Org. Al Hart and Genl. Pres.