A Short History of Union Representation for the Professional Staff at Cleveland State University
Cleveland State University’s professional staff voted to organize on March, 26, 1998. Our first Collective Bargaining Agreement began on July 1, 1998 and ran through June 30, 2001. At that time, our local union was associated with SEIU925 (Service Employees International Union), a district consisting mainly of workers from the Cleveland and Cincinnati area.
The process of forming our first contract certainly did not happen overnight. It started years earlier, when a “Notice to Negotiate” was filed with S.E.R.B. (State Employee Relations Board) to notify them of our intention to form a unionized bargaining unit.
The number “925” within the Union name “SEIU925” paid homage to the women’s organization called, “9TO5: Cleveland Working Women” which had been around since 1975. It operated as a subchapter of the larger organization called “9TO5-National Assn. of Working Women.” Some of our current union’s chapters were originally represented by 9TO5. Producers of the 1980’s movie, 9 to 5, consulted with members of that national association for some of the material used in the film.
Our local chapter’s first officers were: Gail Marredeth, president, Andi LoPresti, vice-president, and Robert (Bob) Walter, Communications Officer. Our first SEIU organizer was Peggy Torzewski. Our current organizer is Nicole Parke.
By 2001, several unions were active on campus, including A.A.U.P., (American Association of University Professors), C.W.A.-Local 4309 (Communication Workers of America), F.O.P. (Fraternal Order of Police), Theatrical & Stage Employees Local 27 & Local 756, and SEIU-925. In April of 2001, SEIU District 925 held a vote, where members agreed to merge with the larger SEIU1199 WV/KY/OH, a health care and social services union representing employees from the states of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio.
This merger brought new industries and ideas into the union. As a union, there is strength in numbers, and the merger made us “Stronger Together.” After a membership vote on the merger was passed, our bylaws were amended on February 21, 2002, and our union became known as SEIU1199.
In past years, SEIU 1199’s Cleveland area offices were on East 30th Street, north of Chester Avenue. The Cleveland offices are now located at 13000 Shaker Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44120, near Shaker Square. The Union’s District Office is at 1395 Dublin Rd., Columbus, OH, 43215. The office phone number is 877-419-7348. This toll-free number is also the number to call regarding chapter-level concerns.
Currently, the CSU Chapter qualifies to have two Executive Board (E-Board) Members represent CSU’s SEIU members at E-Board Meetings for Cleveland area Chapters, at District Meetings, held in Columbus, or other Ohio cities, as well as at International Meetings that have been scheduled once every four years and were held in places like San Francisco and Puerto Rico.
(Note: Mileage to attend Union Meetings is reimbursed by the Union, and the Union pays for lodging and meals for E-Board Members who attend. Travel and lodging to attend International Meetings is arranged by and paid for by the Union. Please also note that recently, some regularly scheduled meetings have been cancelled or postponed due to Covid.)
Ultimately, the most important document for SEIU Members at CSU is the Union Contract between the University and the Union, on behalf of CSU’s SEIU Members. The contract clearly delineates the rights and responsibilities of the University, the Union, and our Union Members.