Berea, OH Water Workers Organize Into the UWUA

Ohio Local 270 welcomed Berea water department workers


Continuing a string of victories in its water division, Ohio Local 270 recently welcomed the City of Berea Water Department workers as its newest members.

The Berea win is an example of how successful organizing drives emerge when members who enjoy the benefits of a UWUA contract share this with others who work for the same employer, or within a particular industry or region, and encourage them to organize themselves into the union.

Berea workers reach out

“We got a call at the union hall from City of Berea water workers who had talked to some of our local brothers who we had organized at the Cleveland Water Department,” explains Dave Coggins, a master mechanic at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant and Local 270 volunteer organizer. “They saw what the UWUA was doing for the Cleveland members and thought it was a good opportunity for them to join the union. Frank [Local 270 President Frank Meznarich] got me involved. I got a couple of contacts at Berea, listened to their concerns and told them what we could do for them.”

The State Employment Relations Board certified the election win on January 7, 2021 and Local 270 is now in the process of putting together proposals in preparation for negotiating a first contract for the eight City of Berea water department union members.

One union win leads to another

The organizing drive started with 10 individuals interested in joining the UWUA. The City of Berea contested two of the positions. Meznarich, UWUA Organizing Director Bob Houser, and Region III National Representative Rich Cossell moved forward with the union election for the eight workers who are now members and refiled for an election for the two individuals the city was able to carve out. “We are moving forward with those two individuals and the outlook is very promising,” Meznarich says.

The Berea workers sought out the UWUA because they were dissatisfied with what they were getting. They learned of the high quality of representation the UWUA gives its members through word of mouth and decided to join the union. The City of Berea is a suburb of Cleveland.

When the Cleveland Water workers joined the union in 2017, Meznarich recognized the opportunities that would create, “Not just for our new Cleveland Water workers, but for others as well,” he said then. With the Berea win, his prediction of building on the Cleveland victory was realized.