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Passage of ARP marks one year of advocacy for OAPSE

Photo credit: Getty
By Ezra Kane-Salafia and Kathy Malone, OAPSE ·

COLUMBUS, Ohio – For more than a year, the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE/AFSCME) has fought for investment in communities and job security for members. The passage and signing of the American Rescue Plan marks the latest success in investing in school workers and communities.

For OAPSE, protecting the jobs of workers at public schools, libraries, boards of developmental disabilities, Head Start agencies and community colleges has been the focus of advocacy. That came in the form of the passage of the CARES Act last year and the signing of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) earlier this month. AFSCME members across Ohio and the nation fought hard to get Congress to approve the ARP.

The ARP will deliver $17 billion of aid to Ohio, and the CARES Act funding from December is funding 68 new custodial positions to the Columbus City Schools through August 2022. The Columbus School Employees Association (CSEA) and OAPSE pushed for those positions to join the bargaining units where they will work. CSEA represents 3,200 workers in 11 locals in the school district.

Lois Carson, OAPSE’s state president and CSEA’s president, said the CARES Act funding only pays for the new staff to be hired. More federal money – which will likely come through the American Rescue Plan – will be needed to make sure they can stay on permanently.

“We want to turn this into permanent work because the need is great for the work they will be doing,” Carson said. “We will be working with the district to find funding to do that.”

The impact of the ARP will be significant for OAPSE members who will benefit from both the $350 billion investment in state and local governments and the $130 billion investment in our nation’s schools. As Ohio’s $17 billion share is distributed, OAPSE will continue to ensure that the money stays invested in the services that Ohio residents depend on.

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