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Cincinnati State Clerical, Technical And Professional Workers Ask College For A Raise

Ann Thompson
About a dozen demonstrators, some of them who work at other SEIU represented workplaces, came to a news conference for Cincinnati State union employees who are negotiating a new contract.

During a late Tuesday afternoon news conference, a dozen members of a union that represents Cincinnati State Technical and Community College laid out reasons why they deserve a raise.

With contract negotiations underway between the SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH and the college, the union argues current wages are not keeping up with inflation. It also points out Cincinnati State is expected to receive $16 million under the American Rescue Plan and part of that money could be used for raises. (Half is required to go to student grants.)

SEIU represents clerical, technical and professional workers.

Melissa Scott has worked for Cincinnati State for 20 years. She's now a purchasing assistant in the finance department and is glad there has been some movement in negotiations. She just wants the agreement to be fair. "Sometimes when you see the company spending money on other things you're thinking, OK, they could garner out some money for us, too."

In addition, union Executive Vice President Joshua Norris requests a call to action. "The members are asking people across the area, whether you are a community member, voter, public official, or if you are a part of the labor movement, to sign onto a letter to President Monica Posey and the Board of Trustees." He emphasizes, "It is very important for these dedicated workers to be respected, protected and paid."

SEIU members last received a raise in 2017.

Cincinnati State's Response And The Enrollment Decline Of Community Colleges

Cincinnati State and community colleges nationwide have seen a dramatic decrease in enrollment in the past year. Reasons, including the pandemic, are spelled out in this PBS report. The decline ranges from 10% to 30%. Enrollment fell 24% at Cincinnati State from 2012-2020.

According to Cincinnati State:

"It is correct that there have been very limited raises for employees at Cincinnati State the past few years. Between 2012-2020, community college enrollment across Ohio fell by 24 percent causing significant decreases in revenues. Cincinnati State values all of its employees. The college's strategy during this time has been to work with our unions, including SEIU, to save as many jobs as possible, to keep as many of our colleagues serving students as possible, even during the extreme uncertainties brought on by the COVID pandemic. The college has not yet received official notice from the US Department of Education about the amount it will be receiving as part of the American Rescue Act or the restrictions on those funds."

The college says it has negotiations with all of its unions on a regular cycle, including SEIU. Cincinnati State says it is very early in the process with several more sessions scheduled for this month. The college says it doesn't comment on ongoing negotiations.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
Enrollment at Cincinnati State is down 24% from 2012-2020.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.