LIMA – Representatives of the Ohio Civil Service Association, a collective bargaining unit that represents correctional staff at the Alain Oakwood Correctional Facility, are weighing their options after an arbitrator dismissed a union complaint alleging the state violated an existing collective bargaining agreement. work for prison workers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The union filed a complaint on March 12, 2020, alleging that the state violated the collective agreement by failing to pay an emergency payment of $ 8 per hour for all hours worked between July 2020 and December 2021.

On October 29, 2020, the complaint went through a mediation process without a decision. Legal maneuvers back and forth lasted more than two years before arbitrator Gregory Shooter made his decision earlier this week.

OCSEA President Chris Mabe said in a statement that union officials were considering all options, including filing a motion for release in the local general court.

On March 9, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency over the Covid-19 pandemic. His order came after a similar proclamation issued eight days ago by the President of the United States declaring a state of emergency over the pandemic. Under a DeWine order, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction unilaterally introduced a hazard payment in an institutional setting under the revised Ohio Code, according to the arbitrator in the OCSEA complaint.

Paying for a hazard, as described in the revised Ohio Code, is an additional payment if there is a temporary or permanent hazard that is not common to an employee’s classification, Zuter said in his arbitration award.

Additional wages were set in July 2020 and existed until December 2021. According to the arbitrator’s report, more than $ 24 million was paid to OCSEA members through an additional risk charge.

But in his decision, which, according to union officials, was based solely on a simple technical matter, Shooter ruled that the Declaration of Emergency issued by DeWine on March 9, 2020, declared a “state of emergency” but did not declare public safety. ». an emergency. “

Mabe said the union “strongly disagrees” with Shooter’s ruling.

“Unfortunately, the arbitrator agreed with the state’s technical argument that Article 13.15 (B) of the collective agreement never declared a public security emergency and that some or many staff members had not been dismissed at that time, so he believed that the scholarship was not applied, ”Mabe said.

“The state has the ability to pay needed workers right now for their role in the pandemic under the U.S. rescue plan. These employees should be rewarded, not punished by management and administration, ”Mabe said. “While management may think it’s a win, it’s a defeat for everyone. The core staff is the foundation of Ohio. ”

The institution’s security guard, Allen Oakwood, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution from his employer, told The Lima News in an email that the emergency payment refused by the arbitrator “is a clear violation of our union contract because it is explicitly written that civil servants should receive $ 8 an hour for every hour worked during a declared state of emergency. ”

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