Despite intense and unprecedented attacks on collective bargaining sweeping the Midwest, Utility Workers have won a string of important victories both in organizing campaigns and contract negotiations in Ohio. UWUA Local 436-A, representing workers at the Eastern Ohio Regional Waste Water Authority, has just completed negotiations for a new 3 year agreement, one which local president, Lou Fisher, has declared “the best contract we’ve ever negotiated.” The contract included a 3% pay increase for each year of the agreement, healthcare cost percentages frozen for 3 years, and double-time pay after 16 hours. With a highly trained and prepared negotiating team, local 436-A was able to win numerous improvements without a single takeaway.
This success comes on the heels of a major organizing victory with Cleveland water workers, who are now preparing to negotiate their first contract as members of Local 270. The Cleveland workers sought out the UWUA because they were dissatisfied with the representation they were getting as members of an independent union. It was through word of mouth that they learned of the high quality of representation the UWUA gives its members.
UWUA’s emphasis on training, education and member engagement is clearly paying dividends. Locals are gaining skills and knowledge needed to bargain top-notch contracts, and this has bolstered UWUA’s reputation among workers eager to find empowerment in a political climate that increasingly favors employers.