Workers Choose UE
The cooks, custodians, bus drivers, aides and secretaries of
the Highland School District (in southern Morrow County, about 40 miles
northeast of Columbus) voted in a landslide victory of 38-16 for UE
representation on October 6. This followed a 6-month UE campaign in which
workers demanded a break from decades-old favoritism and low wages in this
rural Ohio school district.
These school employees had tried twice before to unionize,
both times with different unions. UE brought rank-and-file members to help
with the campaign and, together with the determination of Highland workers
themselves, surged forward to an overwhelming victory.
The approximately 70 workers will soon elect their negotiating
committee and begin working toward a union contract that will mandate fairness
in hiring and promotions, and provide decent wages for all, among other
'WE NEED UE TO GIVE
US A SAY IN THINGS'
"I’ve been here 17 years, and I know that we’ve lost
benefits over the years because we don’t have a union," commented
custodian Elaine Longstreth. "We need UE to give us a say in
As in many UE campaigns, rank-and-file participation from
nearby UE locals made a crucial difference, offering their support in house
visits, meetings, and at the polls. Volunteers included Virgil Kennedy
from Local 766 at Ametek in Wapakoneta, as well as Jerry Miller, Shirley
Thrush, Nina Williams and Sherman Smith from the newly established
Local 799, the Delaware school district. With so many UE members helping them
form their union, Highland School employees knew UE had to be a good union.
A WINNING PITCH
Support from many individual union teachers was also helpful
to the campaign. and in a show of solidarity, major league pitcher Tim
Belcher offered words of support for a newsletter. Belcher, is a Sparta
native who currently plays for the Anaheim Angels and was a winning pitcher in
the 1988 World Series. His mother, Gladys, was on the organizing
committee. Belcher’s number is 41; Highland workers have chosen
"741" as their local number.
With a such a resounding victory at the polls, these newest UE
members are eager to press ahead for their first union contract.
The Highland Schools workers were assisted by Field Organizers
Michael Wilmore and Gail Francis and Intl. Rep. Gene Elk.
UE News - 10/99