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Road workers petition to form a union



Published: Thu, February 13, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Trustees are illegally trying to avoid paying overtime, lawyers allege.

NEW SPRINGFIELD -- Two longtime Springfield Township road workers have petitioned to form a union and filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the township.

Eric Mace and Richard Kennedy, who have been with the township for 19 and 20 years, respectively, have filed a petition with the State Employee Relations Board to form a union under Operating Engineers Local 66.

Trustees told Mace and Kennedy they'd be moved to salaried positions to avoid overtime costs associated with snow and ice removal, according to a news release from Attys. David Engler and Martin Yavorcik, who represent Mace and Kennedy.

Trustees told Mace and Kennedy, who have "spotless work records," that the township would run an advertisement for workers who would be willing to replace them under salary, the lawyers said in the news release, which was issued Monday.

Violation alleged

The lawyers said not paying overtime to these workers for time in excess of 40 hours a week is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

"We have worked hard for two decades for this township and know every neighborhood and person, and to be threatened with the loss of your job because someone is filled with power, saddens me and my co-workers," Kennedy said.

Trustee Chairwoman Shirley Heck referred questions to Atty. Jim Wilkins of Akron, who represents trustees in this matter.

Wilkins said trustees had talked about making the salary change but never did it. He said the union misinterpreted the action as retaliation against the workers for seeking union representation, but insisted that's not the case.

He said the salary change discussion happened long before the union request was filed.

"I think the union has the cart before the proverbial horse," Wilkins said.




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