Student Senate passed a bill Wednesday to voluntarily recognize the unionization of Ohio University classified employees.

Classified employees are employees of a state university that have passed a civil service examination, which includes librarians, animal care specialists and health services and network administrators. Classified employees aren’t engaged in teaching, research and administration, according to Ohio law. 

With unionization as a near possibility, Melanie Quolke, administrative specialist for the Patton College of Education, said she knows classified employees will face setbacks. 

“We know layoffs are going to happen anyways,” Quolke said. “We want acknowledgment from the university. We want a seat at the table.” 

Eliza Ivan, vice commissioner of off-campus life and senator of women’s affairs, said she knows how much classified employees can change a student’s perception at a university. 

She said a library support associate once helped her when she had a high fever. He offered to drive her to the hospital and gave her ice pops and cold medicine to help with the fever.

“This showed me Ohio University was home,” Ivan said. “It showed that classified staff genuinely care.”  

Grant Adams, senator of minority affairs, said unionization has helped him get to where he is today.

“My grandfather was a coal miner, and if his mining operation didn’t unionize, I wouldn’t be at Ohio University,” Adams said. 

Quolke said that classified employees play an important part in the lives of students. 

“We’re the ones who play an integral part of your experience at this university,” Quolke said. “We are the harbingers of institutional knowledge.”  

OU will decide on Feb. 12 if it will voluntarily recognize the classified employees union.

If it does not, an election will then be held to determine if the university will recognize the classified employees union.

The classified employees union will hold an educational workshop on Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at The Plains Public Library.