Feb 6, 2024 - News

Holden Forests & Gardens workers are unionizing

An outdoor expanse in Northeast Ohio.

The Butterfly Garden at Holden Arboretum. Photo: Holden Forests & Gardens

Workers at Holden Forests & Gardens — the organization made up of the Holden Arboretum and the Cleveland Botanical Garden — are unionizing.

Driving the news: Employees delivered a letter to management Jan. 30 requesting voluntary recognition of the union.

What they're saying: Under the banner "HF&G Workers United," organized under Ohio AFSCME 8, the collective of full-time and part-time employees says they are seeking stability and equity in the workplace.

  • "HF&G's vision of vibrant communities where trees, plants and people thrive begins with an inclusive environment and respectful treatment of all employees," the letter reads.
  • "The current gulf in understanding between our board, leadership and workforce promotes a lack of transparency and a decision-making process that rarely includes the voices of those most directly impacted."

By the numbers: HF&G has 173 employees, but it's unknown how many would be in the bargaining unit.

The other side: "We respect the rights of any employee to explore joining a union, and we are committed to fostering a work environment of mutual respect, where all employees are fully informed and comfortable making their own decision about this very important issue," Judy Tobin, Holden Forests & Gardens' vice president of human resources, told Axios in a statement.

  • Tobin did not say whether HF&G would voluntarily recognize the union.

The big picture: Ohio's union membership declined slightly in 2023 — to 12.5% from 12.8% the year before — but remains above the national rate.

What's next: Under the National Labor Relations Act, if an employer does not voluntarily recognize a union, employees may file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to hold a secret ballot election.

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