State pen workers take on chamber
UNION seeks boycott; another member quits
By Karl Henkel
One local union has come up with a new approach to pressure businesses to withdraw their memberships from the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber.
About 250 businesses were sent letters April 20 by the Ohio State Penitentiary’s Chapter 5041. The letters urge the penitentiary’s 413 union members to cease spending at any remaining chamber businesses — decrying the organization’s pro-Senate Bill 5 stance.
The letter was signed by Doug Sollitto, union president, who said the decision to send the message was unanimous among union members.
“We’re making a point not to go to those businesses who are in favor of Senate Bill 5,” Sollitto said.
As for the response, Sollitto said he’s received 27 return letters, all in support of the chamber businesses protest.
Sollitto said he doesn’t have a problem with the chamber taking a position on political issues — he just disagrees with the chamber’s stance on SB 5, which limits some collective-bargaining rights.
Sollitto said the union is planning to distribute another round of letters shortly.
One business he can scratch off his list is Credit Union One. It announced this week that it is discontinuing its membership due to the chamber’s “anti-union position.”
“We were very taken back as to why [Chamber CEO Tom] Humphries would have come out and made a political stance representing the chamber,” said Linda Cappella, Credit Union One CEO.
She said initially Credit Union One and its nearly 3,000 members were “up in arms” when Tony Paglia, chamber vice president of government affairs, voiced pro-Senate Bill 5 sentiment back in March.
Paglia, who did not comment Wednesday, previously called SB 5 “a common-sense approach that gives state and local government the flexibility and tools to properly and efficiently manage their dwindling resources and continue to provide services to the public without having to raise taxes considerably.”
After Humphries made a similar remark, Credit Union One decided it was time to withdraw its membership.
“As this progressed in The Vindicator and through our Valley, it wasn’t a hard decision,” Cappella said. “And it wasn’t about money.”
Cappella declined to say how much it would cost Credit Union One in lost health insurance, utility and advertising discounts from the chamber but said it was a “manageable amount” that wouldn’t create any “hardship for the office or the membership.”