The U.S. Department of Labor isn't going to be poked into action in Craig Beach.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CRAIG BEACH -- Even a good poking apparently isn't going to get the U.S. Department of Labor involved in Craig Beach for a second time.
Barry Haber, director of the Cleveland district for the department's wage and hour division, said he would not force Craig Beach Mayor Camille Gaia III to pay village employees before Monday. Labor department officials recently concluded their first investigation into village council's inability to pay their employees in the past.
A dispute over July paychecks led to a poking incident Wednesday between Gaia and Village Councilman Dennis Champion.
Back and forth: Champion told a Mahoning County deputy sheriff that Gaia poked him three times in the chest outside the village administration building. Gaia, meanwhile, said Champion poked him in the chest first. He said he then poked Champion in retaliation.
Both men called the sheriff's office after the confrontation.
Workers not paid: The dispute occurred when Champion asked Gaia why two village street department workers hadn't been paid yet this month. The first pay period of the month for the workers ended July 7.
The village owes the two workers a total of $1,597.
Village ordinances state that village employees must wait seven days after the end of their pay period before they can get their checks. As a result, Haber said, the labor department doesn't think Gaia has broken the law by waiting to send out the paychecks.
Maj. Michael Budd of the sheriff's department said no charges would be filed against Gaia or Champion for the poking incident. Reports are on file at the sheriff's office.
Ending waiting period: Champion said he is writing a resolution for village council that would eliminate the seven-day waiting period. He said he plans to introduce the resolution at the council meeting Aug. 13.
"They deserve their money," Champion said of the employees. "We've passed the pay ordinance. Now pay the workers."
Verne Waldow, a criminal investigator from the Department of Labor's wage and hour division, spoke to village council June 27 about the perils of not paying the employees. Council had been unable to pass the June pay ordinance until after Waldow's presentation, because only four of six council members attended the June 11 and 20 council meetings. Five votes are needed to set aside council rules and pass any ordinance at one meeting.
Waldow said that under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, village council members could be fined for not paying employees.
Wants mayor out: Champion said the dispute over the paychecks will add fuel to his calls for the mayor to resign. He first sought Gaia's resignation at a council meeting Monday night.
Gaia, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, has said he thinks Champion and Councilman Larry Ellis are seeking his resignation as part of their efforts to dissolve Craig Beach into Milton Township.
Champion said, however, "That never entered my mind."