Health insurance co-payments are the central issue.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Mahoning Valley union leaders are threatening the political future of two Trumbull County commissioners if they don't end a strike at a county agency.
The leaders are attempting to end a strike by 55 employees at the child support enforcement agency.
The workers, in the second week of a walkout, are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3808.
Chris Colello, president of Teamsters Local 377, cautioned commissioners Joseph J. Angelo Jr. and Michael O'Brien that labor played a major role in getting them elected.
"We're going to remember; we won't forget," Colello said during the commissioners' weekly meeting Tuesday. "Don't let them down anymore."
At issue: The primary issue in the strike is a proposal by commissioners for workers to pay a portion of their health insurance premium cost.
Commissioners have rejected a fact finder's report that doesn't mention health care; there would be no co-payment if the report were adopted by both sides.
During the meeting, Commissioner James G. Tsagaris, who has broken ranks with Angelo and O'Brien, moved to adopt the report but couldn't get a second.
Commissioners maintain that the cost of health coverage is skyrocketing and that income tax receipts are down.
Other union views: Organized labor has supported the commissioners, cautioned Nick Nichols, special projects coordinator for the International Union of Electrical Workers/Communications Workers of America at Delphi Packard Electric Systems.
"The [county's] integrity is now at stake," asserted Nichols, a longtime union activist.
Jim Graham, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 at Lordstown, was also critical of commissioners for not settling the strike. He called on commissioners to cut the number of supervisors at CSEA, pointing out that there are 12 supervisors for 55 union members.
Consultant: Other union representatives called on commissioners to fire Atty. Gary Johnson of Cleveland, the county's chief negotiator.
Mark Carlson, staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was critical that Johnson is paid $175 hourly.
Mike Rubicz, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1375, said a continued strike will increase the county's legal costs.
"I think it's time to settle this," Rubicz said.
Debbie Bindas, president of the Trumbull County Federation of Labor, said commissioners have said they don't need consultants such as Johnson.
Response: Angelo countered that he never agreed not to use consultants.
O'Brien pointed out that Johnson's law firm has represented Trumbull County deputy sheriffs and corrections officers, challenging an assertion by Colello that Johnson is a member of a "union-busting firm."
The union representatives called on commissioners to name James Keating, county human services director, as chief negotiator.