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Fallout over SB 5 continues for area chamber

Published: Sat, April 2, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Kristen Russo



Another business has withdrawn its membership from the Youngstown/ Warren Regional Chamber as a result of the chamber’s support for Senate Bill 5.

In a letter to the chamber Friday, Tom Byers, general manager of A.B. Crane & Steel Service Inc., said the chamber “is now perceived to limit its exposure to only those that support the Republican Party.”

Gov. John Kasich signed SB 5, which curtails some collective-bargaining rights for public employees and had strong Republican support, into law Thursday.

Tony Paglia, vice president of government affairs for the chamber, said new members have joined the organization as a result of the SB 5 endorsement. Paglia would not say, however, who those members were or how many have joined.

“A.B. Crane & Steel Service is a very small company barely surviving. We have to be very careful to spend our money on organizations that help us,” Byers said in his letter to the chamber.

The Youngstown-based steel supplier has four employees.

“I just wish they would’ve stayed neutral on [SB 5]. I don’t see how it helps to support it so strongly,” Byers said in an interview Friday.

On Wednesday, Fireline Inc., a Youngstown-based refractory manufacturer, had a press conference announcing it was terminating its membership with the chamber.

On Thursday, Mike Broderick, president and chief executive officer of Turning Technologies, announced his resignation from the chamber’s board of directors and his company’s withdrawal from chamber membership.

Broderick and Roger Jones, chairman of Fireline’s board of directors, cited the chamber’s endorsement of SB 5 as reasons for leaving.

“We work so closely with our guys, and our guys are in the Steelworkers union. It seemed like an insult to me,” Jones said of the endorsement during Wednesday’s press conference at Fireline’s production facility, 300 Andrews Ave.

Broderick also said the e-mail voting process that the chamber implemented in the endorsement “was flawed at best.”

“Board members were asked to participate in a straight up or down vote with no motion, no second, and most importantly, no discussion or consensus building allowed,” Broderick said in a letter to chamber leadership. “I was one of the 14 members [the majority] that either did not vote or abstained because I do not believe that a vote should even have been conducted by the Chamber Board. I believe the results of that vote indicate that my thinking was not alone. These publicly reported results show only eight members voting to support the Bill and one against, while 14 of us either abstained or did not vote at all.”

Bruce Zoldan, chief executive officer of B.J. Alan Co., the wholesale fireworks distributor located in Youngstown, terminated his membership with the chamber in October 2010 after Tom Humphries, the chamber’s president and CEO, co-hosted a fundraiser for Kasich, who was then the Republican candidate for governor.

“The chamber is a business organization. It’s not a political organization, and I think its leadership has, in recent times, been making decisions without proper direction from the board,” Zoldan said Friday.

“I think the Regional Chamber should stick to its original purpose, and that is business,” Zoldan said.

The law firm of David Betras also terminated its chamber membership in October 2010. Betras is Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman.


1cbog76(22 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Well since some of the local companies want to play politics instead of doing business, maybe it's time the people of the Valley follow their lead and withdraw our support from those companies.

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2mishmash(314 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

As a businessman in the Valley for over 25 years, I also chastise the Chamber for the UPPITY NOSE ARROGANT ATTITUDE it has taken in this particular fiasco.

It is truly time for the Chamber to end its political games & also time for TOM HUMPHRIES TO GO.


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3saddad(648 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Why hasnt the Vindy published the Chambers Vote yet? Its not fair to publish names of those withdrawing and not the names of those that voted with Humphries to support SB5.

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4NoBS(2506 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Humphries committed a grave lack of judgement in allowing his personal preferences to take precedence over those of the Chamber. Now the Chamber's relationship with the working people of the area is damaged, and the workers are watching carefully to see what happens next. Humphries' ouster, with an apology to the trades and other unions, would ease the damage done. Continued stonewalling will just widen the rift.

Humphries and company need to study the events that led up to the French Revolution.

It could happen here, too.

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5Shanty(19 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

"Tony Paglia, vice president of government affairs for the chamber, said new members have joined the organization as a result of the SB 5 endorsement. Paglia would not say, however, who those members were or how many have joined."

Maybe its because there are none or the number is so miniscule that it doesn't compare to the number leaving.

Give us a list of the companies that supported this vote so we can show our non-support of them rather than not supporting all of your members and doing an injustice to the ones that are not responsible.

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6borylie(946 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

From now on I'm going to try and do business only if they belong to the Chamber of Commerce. In addition I'm going to purchase my goods from non-union establishments. I was going to buy a new car in early summer,I'll be sure to boycott GM in particular. Will it hurt the area and therefore hurt me? Might,but I'm only looking out for me now,not into the future. Sound familiar?

This is how unions get their own way and frankly I'm fed up. Their bullying,intimidating,threatening way of doing business goes back to Hoffa and the Teamsters. This is the way they have done business for decades and don't know any other way. How about picketers in front of union businessess? How about following union workers home,trying to intimidate them?

If you get radical like them,the police is called in and of course since they're union brothers and sisters,how do you think that works out. Try and find a republican attorney here in the Valley to represent you.

This is fine for you that derive something from the unions,but how would you all like it if the unions ran the country more than they do now? Go ahead say no to what the unions want and see if you all like the grief.

Don't unions and their tactics remind you of countries with dictators?

Do any of you union peons go to the union resort up in Michigan? How about all the union retreats at the nicest resorts in the country? Didn't think so,and do you think the union leaders are going to give all that up without having you fight for them?

You followers better wake up and decide that you all can run your own lives and succeed on your own.

Governors Kasich,Christie,Walker and Daniels have shown tremendous courage in trying to control the unions, They should be commended,not villified. Very few stand up to the unions. President Obama is totally beholden to the unions. He has no courage.

So like it or not the people that want to be in business without unions or want to do business with non-union businesses should be allowed to do so without fear and this is what's happening.

I will not organize a boycott,nor will I organize to picket union businesses,because then I'd be acting just like the unions. I will though try to influence family anf friends to buy non-union.

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7candystriper(575 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

the U.S. steel business is vanishing...blame the Chamber

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8ValleyNative(174 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Do you think Senate Bills 1 through 4 feel neglected?

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9ytown1(397 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

That can go both ways HonestAbe, how honest? I will question that, we as business owners have a printed copy of the chamber membership and can use it to allow us to vet out all others who are not members to choose who to business with, along with that, we can do our own research and any company that has a union involved with our products, we can refuse to do business with them, and I hate to tell you the businesses with unions is vastly out numbered. Who is going to be hurt worse?

I am really getting tired myself of the unions felling like they have this power over anyone else and everyone who disagrees with them is out to destroy them. We are only becoming educated to the largess that the public unions have manipulated away from the taxpayers and we are just fed up with the levies and the need for more money just to feed the appetite of these people.

The Pensions and health care benefits, Accumulated vacation and sick days among others will be the things that are going to ruin us all. Not so different to what happened to Steel back in the 70's and what recently took place in the auto industry.

I blame management as much as the unions for hot having the gonads to say "NO" we just cannot sustain this into the future. On down the road the pensions will cost us more than the current workers, just like GM, don't you see the similarities?

The budgets of these public entities are dominated with 80-85% being used for salaries and benefits.

We are currently having public union retires that are making more in retirement than most make working a 9-5 job, some even retiring as Millionaires, I do not think anyone ever thought that would happen. This imbalance had to be addressed now or there would be no way to fix it without a total collapse of our society. How is that for a scare tactic Honest? And I am being as honest as I can without telling someone to think my way or I will put you out of business, we all know it is going to be a change for some, but they will still have their jobs and will still retire quote well off for themselves.

So threaten away, don't forget, the mighty sword is double edged.

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10borylie(946 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Average,Business owners can run their businesses by themselves,and many do. Workers can't work without business. Double Duh!

HonestAbe,You're scared?

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11Askmeificare(841 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

@ ImUrPO; @ ValleyNative:

@ ImUrPO:

"Humphries is a total Idiot. He needs to Resign. The Chamber embarressed itself over this."

Humphries is not an idiot.

Humphries does not need to resign.

The Chamber did not embarrass itself over this.

Betras is simply making a power move and it seems EVERYONE is falling for it.

Relax and soon it will all be over. Everything is fine.

@ ValleyNative:

"Do you think Senate Bills 1 through 4 feel neglected?"


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12seminole(476 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Whaaaaaa whaaaa, cry the union workers, who have been over paid and compensated due to leveraging townships/cities for years, forcing taxpayers to pay for their benefits while struggling to pay for their own. The rage is now you all will have to pay for what the rest of us pay for, maybe even do something outside the printed responsibilities on your job. You know, the "we can't move that branch because it's not in our contract" stuff? So now, rather than have 5 guys stand around a pothole while one shovels the asphalt into the hole, the truck driver runs back and forth over the asphalt while the third guy moves the safety cones behind the truck, the fourth and fifth try to figure out which one gets to stick his hand out to tell traffic to swing out around the truck, you may have to actually run two guys out to actually work...sound and look familiar? It isn't about losing anything, it's about working like everyone else has to, and not having someone else pay for your benefits. And to the comment that it's tough to run a business without employees? Ignorant...with unemployment as it is I am sure there will be plenty to fill your slots when the criers quit since unemployment is much better than having a job, right?

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13castironstrawbreaker(6 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

I have never seen so much hate for Americans that happen to be in a union. Unions for the most part have been weaken for the last 30 yrs, every since the PATCO strike, where workers were striking not because of money or benefits, but because the airline traffic control system had become unsafe. Granted it was an illegal strike, but these were American workers who felt strongly that their bosses were not listening to safety concerns. Seems history is repeating itself. Recently, we read were airport towers are being manned by skeleton work forces. Cuts have consequences and I for one will not do much flying. The problems still exist.
Now, we have our neighbours against neighbours because of where they happen to make a living. Unions in the past was to be an equalizer against highly profitable & powerful capitalist that had too much influence in Washington. Now we are full circle with the help of organizations like the Chamber of Commerce. For past 30 yrs businesses have been winning. Most union contracts have only increased 3% on average over the years while large corporations demand new hires participate in two tier wage systems. Corporate productivity increased with the cooperation of unions. Productivity is so high many companies can hold off hiring for a two year time span, while making huge profits. They don't do this on their own, its because federal & state governments have reduced their taxes and workers have made concessions. SB 5 is a wedge the republicans had on their agenda. Its their plan that if Mr.Reagan can do it every individual gop governor can do the same. They think their policies will work and by election time we will have forgotten all the extreme measures.

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14Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

If Tom Humphries and the Chamber came out against SB 5, you wouldn't hear a single word in the paper.

Would Bruce Zoldan and company say a word about it? No, because it would be business as usual. Would Dave Betras be beating his chest because the Chamber did something that was partisan, albeit in his favor? No, because it would be business as usual.

Bruce Zoldan was at the fundraiser for John Kasich by the way, in case anyone didn't know that fact. He plays both sides of the political fence, and he does it because it is in the best interest of his company. Personally I think it is a scummy practice to play that kind of game, but I am not in the business of knocking another person's hustle.

If Boss Betras wants to lead by example, maybe it is high time for him to encourage the unionization of his own office personnel. Until he practices what he preaches, he is not worth listening to.

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15Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Well wiseass, that might not be a revelation to you, but believe it or not a lot of people don't know and take what the Vindicator says as the truth.

The point of that statement is a lot of these people say a lot of things, but it is not an accurate portrayal of reality. I know there are a lot of medium sized words in that statement, so you might want to take a little time to process it... idiot.

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