CSEA Agreement saves jobs, closes office on Fridays

The CSEA office will not be open on Fridays until July.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners have worked out an agreement with two unions to save 25 jobs in the county's Child Support Enforcement Agency.
The agreement calls for CSEA employees in the unions -- American Federal of State County and Municipal Employees Local 3577 and Teamsters Local 377 -- to go to a 32-hour work week, which will mean a pay cut and a reduction in public services.
Beginning today and for every Friday until July 8, the CSEA office in the McGuffey Plaza, North Garland Avenue, on Youngstown's East Side will be closed. The agency is a division of the county's Department of Job and Family Services, formerly known as the welfare department.
Atty. James Petraglia, county human resources director, said the agreement took weeks and many negotiation sessions with the unions to work out.
Support payments
There are about 90 employees in CSEA, which is charged with making sure county children receive support payments from noncustodial parents.
At the commissioners' Thursday meeting, Jeannette Droney of AFSCME and Barbara Holzschuh, chief steward of the Teamsters, lauded the efforts of Petraglia and the commissioners to get the agreement done.
It was Petraglia who suggested the idea of reducing the work week as opposed to the layoffs.
Holzschuh said the work-week reduction also will affect child-care hearings in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts. The judges of those respective courts -- Theresa Dellick and Beth A. Smith -- also had to sign off on the reduction agreement because some hearings would have to be shuffled.
Two divisions
The county's JFS is split into two divisions: human services and the CSEA.
The human services division gets most of its funding from the federal government after the money is passed down to county departments through the state. The programs the division is responsible for include financial assistance, health care and food stamps. That division will remain open five days a week.
Petraglia said the CSEA uses its annual county appropriation to match state funds. In 2004, the county gave the CSEA $1.6 million. The loss of the half-percent sales tax, however, meant drastic cuts to nearly all general fund departments, and the CSEA received only $560,000 for this year.
That meant the CSEA was facing a budget shortfall for 2005, and 25 layoffs -- 20 from AFSCME and five from the Teamsters -- would have been implemented to get the agency through the year.
Now, with the reduced work week, employees will take a pay cut, but no jobs will be lost. Petraglia said both unions overwhelmingly agreed to the work-week reduction.
Petraglia added that by closing the office on Fridays until July, the CSEA will be able to save $450,000. The state fiscal year begins July 1, so union officials and Petraglia believe there will be enough money available with the savings and the state funding to allow the CSEA to reopen to five-day status the week of July 11.

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