MAHONING COUNTY Supervisors want pay for day when union struck
The county says no work, no pay. Teamsters say they tried to get to work.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A one-day strike by clerical workers at the Mahoning County Child Support Enforcement Agency has the agency's supervisors locked in a dispute with the county.
The 35 supervisors, represented by Teamsters Local 377, are upset because they didn't get paid for the day of the strike, even though it wasn't their fault they didn't work.
The county, though, sees things differently.
"We believe they should have crossed the picket lines based on the language in their contract," said J. Kevin Sellards, human resources director. "Under state law, if you don't work you don't get paid. It's that simple."
Hearing set: The sides will present their cases during an arbitration hearing Friday at the CSEA offices in the Erie Terminal building on Commerce Street.
The controversy is rooted in a strike by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3577, which represents case workers and other employees. The union went on strike for one day, April 9, before being ordered back to work by Judge Maureen A. Cronin of common pleas court.
Strike ruled illegal: The judge ruled that the strike was illegal because it violated a no-strike clause in the union's contract. Workers resumed their jobs the next day.
Robert Bernat, Teamsters business agent, said his union is required by contract to report to work in case of an AFSCME strike. The county, also by contract, is required to provide either safe transportation to and from work or an alternative place to work, he said.
Sellards said the county had arranged for supervisors to meet at the Job and Family Services offices on Garland Avenue that morning, where they were to board a bus and be driven to the CSEA office together.
"They didn't show up," he said. "That's not our fault."
Bernat said the workers were told to be at JFS between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m. that day. They got there around 7:45 a.m. but there was no bus.
Blocked from buildings: By that time, pickets from the striking AFSCME union had arrived and blocked the Teamsters from going into the JFS building, so the supervisors drove to the CSEA offices, where they were also blocked from entering.
He said Sellards told him that day that there would be no problem paying the supervisors, even though they were unable to work.
"I want my people paid for that day," Bernat said. "We made an attempt to go in to work."