Ohio University Workers Union Delivers Petitions

Ohio University workers union delivers nearly 800 petitions to President Sherman

By: Kaitlin Thorne
Posted on: Wednesday, December 7, 2022

ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Union workers and supporters rallied on campus Wednesday afternoon before delivering a petition to Ohio University President Hugh Sherman requesting the university rescind pandemic-based staffing and wage cuts. 

Over the last two years members of the  American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Ohio Council 8 have held multiple rallies since the University’s 2020 decision to cut a large number of culinary, maintenance and custodial staff and reduce wages of others. Union members seek to restore both staff and wages. 

Nearly 800 people signed a petition with this request:

“Dear President Hugh Sherman and OU administration and Leadership,

Our students and the university community deserve a safe, clean and supportive environment. Frontline employees can only provide that if we have fair and adequate staffing levels.

RESCIND THE 20 percent cuts and restore staff levels so we can continue to provide our vital services safely.”

Around 25 AFSCME members and their supporters carried the petitions from Court St. to Cutler Hall. They had hoped to hand deliver the petitions to President Sherman but were told that he was unavailable. His Chief of Staff Carly Leatherwood received the petitions in his stead. 

Betty Emmert, 68, has been a custodial worker at Ohio University for 15 years. She was the first person to hand Leatherwood the petitions.

“I’m a custodial worker and in the last two years I’ve gone from about 28,000 square footage of coverage to clean everyday to over 50,000 square feet everyday,” Emmert said. 

Because of the increased workload, Emmert said she has suffered a shoulder injury. 

“I’m surprised more people haven’t got injured,” Emmert said. “If they have, they are afraid to report it because they are afraid of getting reprimanded. We need to have the cuts rescinded because of all this. People need to be able to do their work properly.”

The effort to rescind the cuts is ongoing for AFSCME. Negotiations between the union and the University are set to begin in January.