Cincinnati – Cincinnati Public Schools will be open for the new school year on Thursday. But last month’s decision by the Southwest Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) to eliminate the XTRA bus routes relied on by thousands of 7-12 students has spun CPS parents and high schools into a tailspin. The dedicated “XTRA” bus routes have been used by students in grades 7-12 to safely get to and from CPS high schools for decades. Students will now be expected to wait and get off at regular SORTA bus stops, mingle with non-student bus passengers and endure extra travel time, confusing bus transfers and potential safety hazards. We fear these inconveniences and hazards will increase drop outs and absences in a year when its critical for students to make up for lost instruction time.
In Cincinnati, there is already an unacceptable level of pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Too many students have been hit by cars in recent years. The city does not have adequate crossing guards to protect students at intersections. This reduction in services to CPS families and students is a betrayal to those of us who supported a recent transit tax increase for SORTA based on the promise higher taxes would actually improve and expand service! Moreover, the travel time for some of these students will be up to two hours just to get to school, making the new “Healthy Start” times at some CPS high schools meaningless.
SORTA is governed by a 16-member volunteer citizens’ board of trustees. Five trustees are appointed by the Mayor of Cincinnati and eleven are appointed by Hamilton County Commissioners.
The Ohio Revised Code states that the “appointing authority” may remove its SORTA appointees “for misfeasance, nonfeasance or malfeasance”. If the SORTA Board fails to move promptly to restore the XTRA routes that thousands of CPS families have relied on for decades, Mayor Cranley and the Hamilton County Commissioners should remove their appointees for failing to take into account the health and safety of these students – a clear example of misfeasance and nonfeasance.
The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, concerned parents, teachers and community members will protest these cuts in front of City Hall at 4pm on Tuesday, August 17, and demand Mayor Cranley, City Council and the Hamilton County Commissioners call on their appointed board members restore the XTRA student routes, and replace them if they do not. This failure of leadership threatens the health and safety of students, and only widen the equity in education gap.
The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals who champions the social and economic well-being of our members, Cincinnati’s children, families, working people and communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism and especially through our members’ work.
Local 20 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO, has served notice upon the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners of its intent to go on strike Sunday, August 22, 2021 beginning at 12:01 a.m. Picketing will occur both at the Hamilton County Courthouse located at 1000 Main Street, and the Todd B. Portune Center for County Government located at 138 East Court Street.
The bargaining unit is composed of 18 members working as Facilities Maintenance Workers and HVAC Technicians at several County facilities, including the Courthouse, the County Administration Building, the Justice Center, the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office, the Juvenile Detention Center, and the Hamilton County Jobs and Family Services Building. Their work is critical to the operation and maintenance of those facilities, including maintaining air quality which is particularly important during the ongoing pandemic.
The parties have failed to reach agreement upon the key issues of wages. IUOE Local 20 Business Manager Rick Gerrein explains: “Although delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, negotiations for this labor agreement began as long ago as December of 2019, but we have yet to reach an agreement. Local 20 is simply attempting to bring our wages into parity with comparable Cincinnati employers including the University of Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Public Schools. We regret that the County Commissioners’ unreasonable position has forced us to prepare to take this action, but we feel we have no other alternative. Regardless, IUOE Local 20 stands ready, willing, and able to continue good faith negotiations with the County Commissioners with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable labor agreement providing fair wages for our members.
IUOE Local 20 represents 23 separate bargaining units in the Greater Cincinnati area and a total membership of approximately 500. Employers include the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, the University of Cincinnati, the Cities of Fairfield and Hamilton, and the Southwest Regional Water District. Visit us on the web at iuoe20.org.
Over the past year and a half, we have all made enormous adjustments, immense sacrifices, and difficult decisions. And while we had hoped and believed that we would be beyond most of this by now, unfortunately, reversals over the past month or so in vaccination rates accompanied by a steep rise in new cases of COVID-19 spawned the Delta variant, a much more virulent and insidious form of this virus which is dangerous in its own right, but proving to be even more contagious for children, the very group for whom a vaccination is not even choice.
Given this recent turn of events and the likelihood, that circumstances surrounding this Delta variant, cases will continue to rise, and overall circumstances of safety will continue to degenerate, we once again find ourselves facing some uncomfortable truths and difficult decisions. So, it is with a truly unhappy and heavy heart that I now inform you that the Executive Board of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council decided today, Thursday August 12 to cancel the upcoming Annual Labor Day Picnic.
Throughout this pandemic Labor has led the way as a beacon of hope and voice of reason, maintaining that above all, worker health and safe workplaces remain our primary consideration, and must never be compromised. We will continue to take a leadership position in doing the right thing and taking every precaution to ensure that all of you, our Sisters, Brothers, and your families remain healthy and well. For those of you who are disappointed, or even angered by this decision, it is essential to remember that worker health and safety are the primary driving principle of the Labor movement, and that is precisely why this decision could go no other way.
Over the next few days, we will be reaching out to each affiliate that has already made the investment to support this event and work out the return of that investment to you. Thank you for your understanding.
As some of you are aware, one of our Brothers here in Cincinnati, Jon Skirvin (Plumbers, Pipefitters and MES, Local 392) suffers from Polycystic kidney disease (PKD). PKD is an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop primarily within your kidneys, causing your kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time. Jon’s kidneys were at 7% functionality at the time of the taping of the video we’re presenting to you here today.
As you will learn from the story, Jon has a girl friend, a family and much to live for. So, now we are asking that you use the bully pulpit of the AFL-CIO to spread this important information to the 12.5 million Sisters and Brothers in the movement. One of them may just be the solution to Jon’s challenge, but certainly many of them can and will learn what it means to be a kidney or other organ and tissue donor and how that very important, life-giving act works.
Below are two links that take you to a short, intro or teaser video that sets the stage for the longer interview that provides the story as well as a wealth of information on the who, what, when, where and why of organ and tissue donation. It is a massive issue that faces tens of thousands of American each and every day. What’s more, the answer to every single case is readily available and could be solved in any single day.
Please take the time to watch this video and more importantly, use your vast network to share this video with all our Sisters and Brothers. Without meaning to be melodramatic, a man’s life depends on it, as do the lives of tens of thousands more that are in the very same life-threatening situation in which our Brother Jon Skirvin now finds himself. So, take a moment — or maybe a little longer — and listen to our story and how you can help…
Thank you in advance for helping with this very, very important work. If we Sisters and Brothers in Labor are not perfectly suited to rise to this challenge, no one is. If there is a truer illustration of “Unity and Solidarity,” I have not seen it. So please, spread the word. And please, share!
Wednesday of this week [July 29,, 2021] on a vote of 67-32 the U.S. Senate moved to begin consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure deal. This is a significant step in realizing a major plank of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. A summary of where the major funding would be directed includes:
$110 billion for roads and bridges. The $40 billion for bridges is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the Interstate highway system
$39 billion for public transit. The money would be used to modernize bus and subway fleets and bring new service to communities. That’s about $10 billion less than senators negotiating the agreement had originally designated.
$66 billion for passenger and freight rail. The money would be used to reduce Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, improve Amtrak’s 457-mile-long Northeast Corridor as well as other routes and make safety improvements to rail grade crossings.
$7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, which the administration says is critical to accelerating the use of electric vehicles to curb climate change.
$5 billion for the purchase of electric school buses and hybrids, reducing reliance on school buses that run on diesel fuel.
$17 billion for ports and $25 billion for airports to reduce congestion and address maintenance backlogs.
$55 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure, including funding to replace all of the nation’s service lines using lead pipe.
$65 billion to expand broadband access, a particular problem for rural areas and tribal communities. Most of the money would be made available through grants to states.
$21 billion for cleaning up superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap obsolete gas wells.
$73 billion for modernizing the nation’s electric grid and expanding the use of renewable energy.
Momentum is building to usher in a new era, one that puts working people first. To level the playing field for workers from decades of corporate and CEO excesses we must continue to advocate for passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
This past Tuesday, July 27, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown shared a part of his busy morning speaking with a number of Cincinnati Labor Leaders. The discussion included Passing the PRO Act, Child Tax Credits and Infrastructure and include the following individuals: US Senator Sherrod Brown, Bill Froehle – President, Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council and Business Manager, Plumbers, Pipefitters & MES Local 392, Fred Lampe – Executive Secretary, Greater Cincinnati Building & Construction Trades Council, Paige Stephens – Representative, UFCW Local 75, Matt Alter – President, Cincinnati Fire Fighters Union Local 48, Rick Fischer – Business Manager, IBEW Local 212, and Michelle Thoman – President, RNA of UCMC.