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Union Education Trust Trustee Tim McAllister began working at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation during summers as a student while he studied at Bowling Green State University. A few years later, in 1990, he was hired full time. But that hardly the end of his education road, as lifelong learning has always been part of his career. McAllister says union-negotiated UET benefits have helped him afford many of his classes, including the Paralegal Studies degree program he’s currently enrolled in through Eastern Gateway Community College.
“It’s helped me a lot. When I first started at BWC, I was IT desktop support,” McAllister said. “From there, I moved over to the applications department and then claims processing, then on to IT research and development and finally to telecommunications where I support the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones and call centers. Continuing my education helped me advance from low level up to a higher pay range,” he said
McAllister is currently an Infrastructure Specialist 3, working with computer systems and phones in the state agency. His education has continued thanks to his union education funds with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and organizational leadership management from Franklin University and a master’s degree from Southeastern University. He also has taken a number of information technology classes.
This attitude of lifelong learning is part of what makes McAllister the perfect UET Trustee. He says his main role is to focus on making sure that the program is sound and effective: That the money is available and allocated appropriately. McAllister also serves on the subcommittee that reviews IT classes and makes recommendations about IT program offerings, making sure that they meet the members’ emerging needs for new skills, updated knowledge and credentials.
“I just think the best feature of UET is the amount of money available for members. It’s truly remarkable,” McAllister said, who is referring to the annual UET funds of $6,250 (a $500 increase from 2018) available to members for career improvement, computer training and professional enhancement.
In addition to his role with UET, McAllister also serves as an OCSEA state board member, chapter president at the BWC William Green Building chapter, chief steward, chair of the Professional Advisory Committee, and a member of the Judicial and Internal Affairs Committee (JIAC). He is also on the OCSEA State Board’s Education Committee.
McAllister first became involved with the union when he took a steward training class to try to learn more about the value of the union. He attended the class and “got hooked, getting more and more involved from there,” he said.
In addition, McAllister is thankful for a union mentor in BWC who showed him the ropes: “Jean Fightmaster took me under her wing and taught me everything she knows,” McAllister said. “She was such a wealth of information to me as I evolved into a union activist.”
In turn, McAllister repays the favor by mentoring younger co-workers into union leaders. “It is these up-and-coming leaders who will make the union strong,” he said. “I try to teach the members who are following in my footsteps, so they can be the leaders that the chapter needs. I do what Jean did for me. When I retire, I know I have good leaders in place.”
Although, McAllister said, he’s not ready for retirement quite yet; he still has a lot of work to do volunteering with OCSEA and UET, which he finds so rewarding.
“I enjoy being able to help members in any way I can,” he said. “We negotiate for them and work to get fair results so they are treated fairly. We help them out as much as we can.”
OCSEA’s strength in negotiating a fair contract that includes UET as a union-administered benefit to the members is important, he said. It’s benefits like the UET that give members the opportunity for career advancement and employment security. “Or, in my case, advancing at BWC: UET might help you get a better job.”