Summer help from youths would not compromise union jobs, the city says.
By AMANDA C. DAVIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A dispute is brewing over whether the city will hire area youths from a summer job placement program to help cut grass.
At odds are the city's safety-service director, Fred Harris, and Lee DeJacimo, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 74.
Harris said DeJacimo won't agree that 15-20 youth workers should be hired to help the city's operations department throughout the summer.
DeJacimo, however, said it's not the workers he has a problem with, but rather the city's intent to hire summer laborers when the department is understaffed.
It's allowed: The union's contract language doesn't forbid the city to hire youths who work for summer placement programs, DeJacimo said, and it's not the union's place to do that.
"It has never and will never be our policy to get involved in the political and questionable hiring practices of the city," he added.
DeJacimo's main concern, he explained, is that the administration continues hiring department heads and managers while the departments themselves may be understaffed.
Layoffs in several city departments were issued in January 2000 because of budget cuts.
Laid-off workers who didn't find jobs elsewhere have been brought back to work, but positions in departments including police, fire and operations go unfilled.
The city says it has posted vacancies for six full-time and six part-time positions in the operations department.
Harris said the union needs to sign off on the matter and agrees several departments are understaffed.
"These are underprivileged children who make a little money for the summer," he explained. "They're not taking any jobs away from city workers."
Summer program: The summer employment program is administered by Trumbull County Department of Job and Family Services, which pays the kids $6 per hour for 30 hours of work each week.
In the past, the youth program was run by Private Industry Council of Trumbull County, which closed its doors last year because state and federal funding stopped. Some of PIC's employees now work at the job and family services.
Bill Turner, workforce investment administrator with job and family services, said he's aware of the dispute and will wait until all parties agree before he designates workers for the city.
Harris said he would understand the union's position if layoffs had not recently been recalled.
As far back as he can remember, the city always has used summer help unless employees were laid off.
"This summer program is a good way to get the kids off the streets and to get money into their pockets," he added.