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AUSTINTOWN Ex-Tamco workers allege unfair hiring by Snyder's



Published: Sun, February 16, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Snyder's says that it has hired 144 and that all but six are ex-Tamco workers.

By CYNTHIA VINARSKY

VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- About 80 former Tamco distribution center employees, most over 40, have filed a group complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging unfair hiring by the new warehouse operator.

David Engler, a Boardman attorney representing the group, said he is also preparing individual EEOC complaints for each employee to file against Snyder's Drug Stores, the Minneapolis-based drugstore chain now leasing the Victoria Road center.

The group complaint alleges discrimination related to age and disability, Engler said, but some of the individual complaints may also claim gender and race discrimination.

Barb Miller, executive vice president of administration for Snyder's, said the retailer has met every hiring-related request by Austintown Township, the NAACP, the Youngstown Urban League and Teamsters Local 377. The local represented Tamco employees and now represents workers at the warehouse Snyder's has renamed Western Wholesale Distribution.

"We are a new employer, not a successor. We are new to the community and new to the union," Miller said, noting that, as such, Snyder's was not required under any law to hire from the Tamco ranks.

Hired laid-off workers

At the urging of township officials and the union, Snyder's agreed to hire some laid-off Tamco employees, Miller said, "but there was no mention of seniority."

Out of 144 now working, she said, all but six are former Tamco employees. About 100 workers have been hired so far to staff the center, which will eventually serve as the distribution hub for 160 Snyder's Drug and Drug Emporium stores around the country. The company has not announced plans to open stores in the Mahoning Valley.

"We're still hopeful that Snyder's will simply realize that the people they left here to make the hiring decisions are discriminating," Engler said. "It's cronyism. They're hiring their friends and associates."

He said Snyder's hiring process is subjective and has bypassed many employees with 20 or 30 years of seniority with Tamco and those who had been off work with injuries or other disabilities in the past.

"We're not saying that they haven't called back some Tamco people who are over 40 and some who were disabled, but instead of going right down the seniority list they're picking and choosing," he said.

Most of Engler's clients are over 40, he said, and "more than half" have had or now have a disability.

Filed NLRB complaint

The Tamco worker group has also filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against Teamsters Local 377, Engler said, alleging the union failed to adequately represent them. The NLRB claim asserts that the union contract in force before Tamco closed, including the seniority hiring clause, should have been honored by the new warehouse user.

Bob Bernat, secretary-treasurer of the local, said had not seen the complaint and could not comment. Engler said he has also written Mahoning County commissioners on the Tamco workers' behalf, asking them to rescind a 10-year, 60-percent property tax abatement they approved. The abatement is expected to save Snyder's about $105,000 a year.

vinarsky@vindy.com




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