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Engineer’s office, union at odds over 11 layoffs



Published: Wed, March 24, 2010 @ 10:46 a.m.

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

There’s a war of words between Teamsters Local 377 and the Mahoning County Engineer’s Office management as another round of layoffs looms in the financially troubled government agency.

Six laborers and five truck drivers belonging to the union received notices March 5 that they face layoff effective Friday.

Union members are scheduled to vote at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Teamster Hall on whether they will take one unpaid furlough day a month as a concession to prevent two of the 11 layoffs.

Meanwhile, the union has appealed the layoffs to the state personnel board of review. The county must show why it believes there is just cause for the layoffs by April 8; the union has until April 21 to dispute that cause.

Other potential concessions would be giving up hazardous-duty pay and longevity pay to save two more jobs, said Sam Prosser, Teamsters Local 377 president.

“If they take concessions, we will re-evaluate and try to reduce the amount of layoffs,” said Marilyn Kenner, chief deputy engineer.

The salary scale for union members ranges from $45,531 for the lowest-paid laborers to $57,408 for a master vehicle mechanic. When benefits are factored in, the cost of these employees to the county ranges from $66,291 to $91,721.

For the nonunion employees, including management, this year’s salaries range from $42,058 for a technician to $85,363 for Kenner. When benefits are factored in, these employees cost the county between $70,820 and $126,401.

The figures for the nonunion personnel were calculated without the 5 percent pay cut these employees began taking at the start of this year, Kenner noted.

For all engineer’s office employees, the county pays not only its share of Public Employee Retirement System costs, which is 14 percent of each employee’s wages, but also the entire 10 percent employee contribution.

Declines in gasoline-tax and license-plate fee revenue — the office’s main revenue-generating sources — have fueled the cuts in the county engineer’s office, including nine layoffs in the union at the end of 2008 and five nonunion layoffs this past January, said county Engineer Richard A. Marsico.

The decline in fuel-tax revenue stems from more fuel-efficient cars. License-plate fee revenue is down because of fewer two-car households and because the recession-induced decline in shipping has led to fewer registered trucks, he added.

“It was just a perfect storm. In 2008, fuel costs went up and the asphalt cost went up ... and we just weren’t getting the money collected like we normally do,” Kenner said, noting that road-salt costs also skyrocketed.

The engineer’s office had total operating revenue of $12,422,253 in 2008 and $10,954,580 in 2009, and Kenner projects $10,123,000 for this year.

All nonunion employees have been under a pay freeze for the past two years, and, except for Marsico, they’ve been taking the monthly furlough day since Jan. 1.

Management has asked the union, which is entering the final year of a three-year contract, to rescind the 3 percent pay raise union members received Jan. 1, Kenner said.

Prosser said he is irked by the fact that Marsico, unlike other elected county officials, hasn’t taken any concessions in his $98,937 annual salary and that Marsico simultaneously collects his city engineer PERS pension and Social Security from private-sector employment.

“What kind of leader is he? He’s putting people out on the street with young families. ... He refuses to lead by example,” Prosser said.

Marsico said that if the union takes concessions, he’ll take a comparable concession, but he wants to make sure any salary giveback he provides goes to the engineer’s department, not some other county fund.

Marsico, 75, also said he sees nothing wrong with triple-dipping.

“I’ve worked 60 years, and those are all benefits that were earned prior to becoming county engineer” in 1997, he said.

Prosser said the union is taking a disproportionate share of the layoffs, compared to the nonunion work force.

“They took superficial layoffs and cuts, and they’re dropping the hatchet on us,” Prosser said.

“They [union members] haven’t taken any concessions at all in the last two years since this economy went bad. So I don’t see that they’re taking a bigger hit than we are,” said Darren Lydic, operations supervisor.

Another matter of dispute is the 12 county-owned SUVs and pickup trucks taken home by the department’s supervisory and professional staff, one of them leaving the county and going to the Windham residence of traffic engineer Robert Donham.

“Why do they take them home if they’re in such dire straits?” Prosser asked.

Kenner acknowledged that her office saved $7,000 to $8,000 a month during a three-month period when it banned take-home county vehicles to save fuel costs, but she said the take-home vehicles were reinstated to give the public better and faster 24-hour emergency service.

Kenner said she uses her county vehicle to pick up her children from school only in “an extreme emergency.”

Prosser said he doesn’t understand why so many layoffs are needed in the county office, when only two union and two nonunion employees have lost their jobs in recent years in the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office.

“It’s because Mahoning County laborers make approximately 37 percent more than their peers in surrounding counties,” Kenner said.

Kenner provided salary-comparison charts prepared by Clemans Nelson & Associates, the Dublin, Ohio-based human-resources consultants that the Mahoning engineer’s office hired to help with contract negotiations. Kenner said the engineer’s office expects to spend $5,000 this year for that firm’s services.

The engineer’s employees were higher-paid than their peers in other Northeast Ohio counties in all union job classifications for which charts were available, except foremen, where Lake County was the leader.


Comments

1timOthy(802 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Take pay cuts !

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2RFederer(116 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

It's fun to watch the unions squeal over taking pay cuts that are the norm elsewhere. Marsico triple dipping and he thinks he's worth it??? Only in the public sector could this be happening and all the parties involved think it's normal to be taking taxpayers to the cleaners.

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3ricnsherri(41 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

FOURTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR FOR LABORERS? Do our fire and police officers make that much? How aout our teachers? Are these folks specialized labor?

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4theguins(169 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

I like the fact that you have a county engineer and a chief deputy engineer between them making 185K / yr. Alot of new roads and bridges designed and built by those two, eh...

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5lwmacii(8 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

"Marsico said that if the union takes concessions, he’ll take a comparable concession, but he wants to make sure any salary giveback he provides goes to the engineer’s department, not some other county fund. Marsico, 75, also said he sees nothing wrong with triple-dipping. “I’ve worked 60 years, and those are all benefits that were earned prior to becoming county engineer” in 1997, he said."

It makes a difficult argument to support the sales tax when the arrogance of elected officials such as this in the face of a declining economy feels ENTITLED.

Let's look at that more closely, if he's 75 that means he has been working since age 15. Clearly a teen, 60 years ago, did not contribute to this system. Otherwise we would have more senior citizens enjoying a greater quality of life.

His argument that he does not want it to go into some other county fund is saying what about the county and accountability?

Shame on Marisco for not seeing anything wrong with triple dipping, especially when the senimtent that double dipping is a questioning practice for those who are affluent and with means.

however he was not paying into the system at that time and some of his benefits must be a result of his current work history.

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6theword(342 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

For all engineer’s office employees, the county pays not only its share of Public Employee Retirement System costs, which is 14 percent of each employee’s wages, but also the entire 10 percent employee contribution

This is the reason why everyone should vote no on the income tax. Why is the county paying for the employees share of pers?

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7Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

"Marsico, 75, also said he sees nothing wrong with triple-dipping."

It is time for Marsico to retire .

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8tkytown(43 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Marsico should be ashamed of himself, set the example and be a leader, pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered, employees should have to pay their 10 per cent like the private sector and the union should take the one day a month w/o pay to save jobs, the coffee shops may miss them...

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9walter_sobchak(1914 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Marsico as a private professional engineer and surveyor for many years paid into Social Security and he is now due his benefit as it was a contract between the ages. The fact that anyone, including someone as rich as Bill Gates, deserves their benefits as they are entitled to them. So they hit the bonanza in life. Good for them!

I don't like the fact, though, that any public employee gets to have their entire retirement contribution paid by the gov't. This is out of touch with reality. Employees should pay their share. Especially when the lowest paid laborer makes $45531 per year, which is $21.89 per hr. Way too excessive for basic labor.

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10mrblue(989 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

There is nothing wrong with triple dipping?? Mr. Marsico, it is time for you to go and enjoy the rest of your life. There are younger workers that need a job, and believe me, you are replaceable.

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11walter_sobchak(1914 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

mrblue,
Marsico is an elected official! The people can retire him at the ballot box. Actually, when compared to the previous engineers that we had in Mahoning Co., at least this one is not dishonest or a crook. He is a good surveyor and a good civil engineer. Remember Bill Fergus? He spent time in the crowbar hotel! What about Mike Fitas? Mike was a good guy but I don't think knew the difference between a property line and a clothes line!

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12stonehead(25 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

WHERE DID THE MONEY GO..130+ employees to less then 50 .. and who gave them the raises. What are the supervisors/engineers making a hour.MARSICO says he lost $70,000 on licenses plate fees. if they didn't drive county trucks/SUV home they could save $96,000 . $8000,X 12 mo according to kenner

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13anothermike(211 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

not pro or anti the county engineer, but the facts remain that if you work for sixty [60] years in both the private and public sectors, and CONTRIBUTE to any and all of these pension systems, you are entitled to the benefits. If not, then give him/her all of the money he/she contributed plus interest from one or the other. The " 30 and out" folks taking buyouts and collecting pensions in their mid-fifties are no different.....

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14dhtj(32 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Start at the top and work your way down to save money. No more taxes for me. Lost my good paying job and now working for 10.00/hr. Get a grip this is going to be the norm for a long time. "YOUR JOB NEXT, KEEP BUYING IMPORTS"

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15sue(171 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

With all his pensions and salary Marsico must be making $200,000 a year. You the man!

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16ttup1rd(27 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

The union employees used to have 138 people,after this round of layoffs they will be down to 40ish. Where is all that money !!! The union has given back ENOUGH. marilyn kenner is a LIAR LIAR. and marsico is a PUPPET.

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17UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

The time has come for these engineering public employees to see pay, healthcare, and early retirment pension cuts. The days of more taxing and spending are over. The 1/2% sales tax will not be renewed and the county budget will get worse before it gets better. Revenue is way down even at current revenue levels and they refuse to accept changes to their pay, benefits, and pensions? Tell all Public Employees your disgusted with a NO vote for the county sales tax levy!

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18ttup1rd(27 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

the sales tax has nothing to do with the engineers office, there money comes from gas & license plate tax..

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19SickofJimbo(140 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

For all engineer’s office employees, the county pays not only its share of Public Employee Retirement System costs, which is 14 percent of each employee’s wages, but also the entire 10 percent employee contribution

Nobody wants to talk about this little secret. This is a joke and absurd. Get your head out of the sand eliminate this perk. The 1/2 percent tax will fail on this alone

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20cp1057(1 comment)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Marsico and Kenner are probably in bed together, spending all the money that should be going to the laborers. Someone needs to look closely to where all that money is going. How bout lets start with all supervisors being able to take company cars home. Is that an expense that tax payers should be paying for. How bout the fact that there is one supervisor for every laborer. What does the supervisors actually do. Are you aware that there is a supervisor of mowers? I wonder what he has been doing these past 6 months. Probably not mowing! What about all the money spent on GPS units in laborer cars just to track where they go on a daily basis. Do the supervisors have those in their cars? One guess...NO! There is something crooked going on with the county money. Maybe the head of the whole operation should be required to be at work more than 8 hours a month. That would probably be too much for Marsico, right? Another thing that is funny is I guess it is ok for supervisors to pick up their kids from school in a county vehicle. Or is that only ok for Kenner? I can't wait to see what happens this summer when the roads are not getting paved because all the 30 and 40 somethings are laid off and all that is left to work are guys in their 60s. I guess we will see what happens!

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