Wex Workers United claim Ohio State is stalling on vote that could speed up unionization, university denies accusations

The Lantern
Members of Wex Workers United say Ohio State has delayed the process of unionization. Credit: Sophia Tobias

Members of Wex Workers United and AFSCME Council 8 have claimed that Ohio State has delayed their attempts to set a union election date that could allow them to unionize.

Ohio State hired lawyers from Porter Wright to further push back and delay attempts to vote, Jo Snyder, learning and public practice programs coordinator for the Wexner Center, said. These claims come after employees of the Wexner Center for the Arts with AFSCME Council 8 announced their intent to form a union for a more equitable and sustainable workplace in March, according to a March 4 press release .

“We’ve had a lot of delays, a lot of OSU asking for extensions on various deadlines set by the State Employment Relations Board,” Snyder said. “We’ve had multiple conversations that have resulted in OSU trying to sort of whittle down the size of our bargaining unit and say that certain employees are not eligible.”

University spokesperson Chris Booker said in an email Ohio State has not hired lawyers to push back, despite claims from WWU’s and AFSCME’s.

“Ohio State has not hired ‘lawyers to push back,’” Booker said. “The university retains outside legal counsel for a wide variety of issues, including but not limited to Wex Workers United’s Petition for Representation Election, which is currently pending before the State Employment Relations Board while SERB determines what positions can legally be included in a proposed bargaining unit.”

A public petition calling for the university to set an election date has collected 1,220 signatures at the time of publication. It states that university leadership has “remained unmoved and disinterested in addressing employee concerns.”

At the current rate Ohio State is responding to WWU’s requests, the vote could be delayed until next year, Matt Reber, store manager for the Wexner Center, said.

“We give them two weeks to get back to us about something, they push for four, and it ends up being three weeks,” Reber said. “And then they wait until the last minutes of the last hour of the day those three weeks to get back to us, so they’re getting, you know, the work day ends at five o’clock, and they get back to us at 4:55. So those are delay tactics.”

The delays have made unionizing more difficult for WWU, Reber said.

“It is frustrating when what we want to do is just get to the bargaining table and work things out with the people we report to,” Reber said.

Meanwhile, Booker said Ohio State supports WWU’s attempts to unionize.

“Wexner Center for the Arts staff bring the center’s mission to life, and we are grateful for their contributions,” Booker said.

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