Saturday, December 2, 2017


Civically Engaged

An attendee at most Board of Stark County Commissioners' weekly meetings:
  • held at 1:30 p.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building, 110 Central Plaza, Canton, Ohio 
is one Tim Aral:
    • a citizen of Louisville, Ohio, and 
    • a member of Local 1200 of the United Steel Workers (USW) which represents Tim and his fellows who work at the Stark County Job and Family Services (SCJ&FS) unit located in Canton.
Aral is listed in a October 31, 2017 Stark County auditor's office database report as being an "eligibility/referral specialist 2" and having been an employee of the SCJ&FS since October 1, 2001.

On Wednesday past, Tim availed himself of a weekly space on the meeting agenda that the Stark County Commissioners provides any who would like to address the commissioners with their concerns.

Aral's concern voiced on Wednesday (not acting as a representative of his union) was nonetheless  "the decline of the union (i.e. organized labor) movement" not only in Stark County but across Ohio and indeed the nation.

In addition to his statement in support of unions, he issues an invitation to visit his union hall in an upcoming Canton community event.

Aral's core point on unionism:  Unions are being attacked on all sides.

If it were not for the strength for "public sector" union shops, the decline of unionism in America would be even more dramatic that the following Bureau of Labor Statistics chart shows:

Here is a video of Aral's presentation.  (2:14)

It is common knowledge (even without seeing the BLS chart above) that there has been a gigantic reduction in union membership in America Washington University sociologists Jake Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice, and Jennifer Laird, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.
over numerous decades.

According to a USA Today article:

Average weekly earnings for nonunion private-sector male workers would have been 5%, or $52, higher in 2013 if the share of union workers had remained at 1979 levels, according to the study out Tuesday from the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute ahead of Labor Day. That’s tantamount to a loss of $2,704 annually for the average nonunion worker.

The article was based on a study by:

Washington University sociologists Jake Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice, and Jennifer Laird, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.

While not presently a USW union official, Aral was a USW vice president when the union negotiated with Stark County commissioners and the Deb Farkas of the SCJ&FS, to wit:

Here is a copy of the contract that Aral was a part of the union negotiating team on:

There is no doubt that Aral has a point.

"Private sector" unionization is about as low as it can get.

And "public sector" unions in Ohio have been under attack by many Republican politicians and elected officials in Ohio over many years (e.g. 1958 and the "right to work" fight which was defeated decisively).

In 2011, anti-union Republicans (Stark Countian Republicans Christina Hagan and Kirk Schuring voting in favor of passage, but Republican state senator Scott Oelslager voting "no") in the Ohio Legislature passed Senate Bill 5 (signed in March, 2011 by Republican governor John Kasich) which would have severely weakened Ohio's public sector unions, to wit:

But Ohio voters saw Aral's argument as being a valid concern and voted overwhelmingly to reject the move by Ohio's anti-union Republican elected officials (i.e. in the Ohio Legislature) to subdue "public sector" unions.  (Note:  the Stark County vote mirrored the statewide vote)

Note:  Stark County Republican legislators Christina Hagan (the 50th Ohio House District) and Kirk Schuring (the 48th Ohio House District) voted "yes" on enacting SB 5.  Republican state SenatorO Scott Oelslager voted "no" on enacting SB 5.

Ohio is among a grouping of six states in which "public sector" unions are doing quite well.  

According to an October 31, 2017 Stark County auditor's office database report provided on a public records request by The Stark County Political Report (SCPR), there were as of the date of the report some 363 union employees at the SCJ&FS.

Overall, the auditor's office listing shows some 490 employees (union and non-union) at SCJ&FS.

Take a look at the database of as of October, 2017 listing of employees:

Note that the highest paid is at $45,448 (annually) and $21.85 hourly.  However, this is not the full story on pay.  To account for a union member's healthy benefit package one should bump up the annual/hourly rate by at 1/3rd.

Another factor to focus on is the "lowest" paid position at SCJ&FS.

The lowest paid employee on the report which is the basis of this blog is $28,993 (annual) which computes at $13.91 hourly.

$13.91 hourly is roughly the equivalent of what a person might hire in at let's say Sam's Club.

But the big difference has to be in the fringe benefits offered unionized public sector employees as compared to non-union employers.

This is where the USW really does a bang up job for its members.

No way, one would think, do the likes of Sam's Club's non-union employees make upwards of $5.00 more per hour additional over base wages in non-cash benefits that unionized public sector employees get.

There is little doubt to the SCPR that overall union membership benefits all middle income Americans though an large majority of them are not union members.

On Wednesday the SCPR spoke individually with Aral.

Here is the video of that conversation.

The lesson of Tim Aral to the SCPR is that he is passionate about the benefits of being a union member and that as a citizen he is willing to speak out for his values no matter that he undoubtedly senses that as a believer in organized labor he is subject to being pilloried by those who think unionism is a detriment rather than a held to the overall economy of the United States of America.

A SCPR "hats off" to Tim Aral for standing up for what he believes in participating in civic engagement with local government leaders.

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