By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
NILES -- The Trumbull County Federation of Labor, which represents about 18,000 members of more than 50 labor unions in Trumbull and Geauga counties, is calling for U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. to resign as congressman.
The federation's membership overwhelmingly voted in favor of the proposal recommended by its executive committee at its meeting Wednesday, said Michael O'Donnell, its president.
Why: The reasons for the resignation request are Traficant's indictment on 10 felony counts, including bribery, racketeering and tax evasion; his decision to act as his own attorney in that case; and the fact that he is the only rank-and-file congressman to not sit on any committees, O'Donnell said.
"This Valley is in desperate need of representation in Congress, and it would be best for us for him to leave," O'Donnell said. "If he's wrapped up preparing his own defense, what good will he do for us?"
Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, has repeatedly said he has no intention of resigning from Congress. His federal trial begins Feb. 4, 2002.
"We understand that he won't resign, but we felt it was important to represent the feelings of our membership and call for it," O'Donnell said. "Hopefully, he'll do something to improve his standing, whether that's getting an attorney or working out his differences with the Democrats and getting a committee assignment. We'd hope his conscience dictates he do something to make him effective as a congressman."
Membership: The federation -- which counts as its members local Steelworkers, electrical workers, communications workers, carpenters, plumbers and iron workers -- is the first labor group to pass a resolution asking Traficant to resign.
The vote was taken during the federation's regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday at United Steelworkers of America Local 2155, which represents workers at RMI Titanium Co. in Weathersfield Township.
Jim Graham, president of the 4,700-member United Auto Workers Local 1112 at the Lordstown General Motors assembly plant, called for the congressman's resignation last week. But Graham said he was not acting in his official capacity as the union's leader.