Union asks why 2nd wage survey is planned
The study that was never used also is the subject of a union grievance.
By DEBORA SHAULIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A union representing workers in Mahoning County's Department of Jobs and Family Services wants to know why county commissioners are willing to pay for a new job and wage study when they haven't implemented a similar, completed study.
The department's executive director, John Zachariah, says that study was flawed and the county wants its money back.
Commissioners recently met with a representative of The Archer Co., a human resource management consulting firm, to learn about its services. Commissioners want county employees who perform similar work to be paid similarly.
Archer is being considered for a job and wage study of nonbargaining unit positions in JFS, though commissioners have asked how much it would cost to study all county departments.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Ohio Council 8 represents members of two union locals at JFS. Representatives say a provision of the contract between AFSCME Local 2001 and the county called for a job and wage study, for which KAFF Systems Inc. of Solon was hired in April 2004.
The plan was to develop a compensation system and evaluate jobs performed by more than 300 employees from Local 2001, AFSCME Local 3577, Teamsters Local 377 and nonbargaining unit positions, said Jack Filak, AFSCME regional director.
The study was completed in late 2004. Individual requests for job audits had been put on hold so that the study could be implemented throughout the department, in fairness to everyone, Filak said. The outcome of those audits could have affected their earnings.
The study was never utilized, and Local 2001 filed a grievance last August. A final hearing will be later this month, said Helen S. Youngblood, president of Local 2001.
"If they wanted to hire Archer back then, we wouldn't have had a problem with that," Youngblood said.
"It seems wasteful to use for them to duplicate the study," Filak said.
KAFF was recommended to the union by Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber and Mahoning Valley Labor Management, Youngblood said.
The KAFF study was conducted before Delores Crawford resigned as director of the county JFS. Zachariah said after he was hired last July, commissioners told him to review it.
Part of the process included employees' completing questionnaires about the nature of their jobs. The KAFF study was flawed because questionnaires weren't validated by supervisors at every level, which is important for the sake of consistency, Zachariah said.
The county also believes that money the union paid to KAFF to perform other work was in conflict with KAFF's contract.
KAFF "can't accept money from the subject of the study," Zachariah said. "The company's obligation and loyalty should have been to county commissioners."
After the study was completed, AFSCME asked KAFF to make a report to the union's board and stewards. "We paid them for their time," Filak said.
"Union members wanted to know how [the study] worked, and I thought that was only fair," Youngblood said. KAFF billed JFS for its presentation to union members, but the union paid the bill, she added.