Chamber gets mixed reaction for backing SB 5

By Kristen Russo


A Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber representative said the chamber has had minimal reaction to its board of directors’ recent endorsement of Senate Bill 5.

That bill would curtail certain collective-bargaining rights for Ohio’s public workers.

“It’s too early to tell. We haven’t gotten a lot of calls,” said Tony Paglia, the chamber’s vice president of government affairs.

Paglia said although responses haven’t been tallied, what little reaction the chamber has received has been mixed.

Turning Technologies CEO Mike Broderick said, however, he has discussed his views with the board.

“I have communicated to the board my concerns over recent decisions, and I’m waiting on the board’s response before I make any decision for myself or for the company,” Broderick said.

When asked if his concerns had to do with the chamber’s endorsement of SB 5, Broderick replied, “Very potentially.”

The chamber’s endorsement of SB 5 was approved by board members in an e-mail vote.

Eight members were in favor; one was opposed. There were five abstentions and nine members who did not respond despite a 24-hour extension, said Don Crane, president of Western Reserve Buildings and Construction Trades Council.

Crane, a chamber board member, voted against the endorsement.

Broderick, also a board member, didn’t go into the specifics of his vote.

Atty. David Betras, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, expressed doubts that the chamber has not received much feedback.

“You can’t trust what the leadership of the chamber of commerce says because they said the vote was overwhelming [in favor], and we know that’s not the case,” Betras said.

Betras said he sent an e-mail to the board members asking for sensitivity on the matter because it is a highly partisan issue.

“There are a number of people that aren’t very happy [with the chamber’s endorsement]. ... They have transformed our economic-development agency into a partisan political organization,” Betras said.

Paglia said the chamber is not responding to Betras’ accusations at this time.

Because the vote was taken by e-mail, Crane said there was no opportunity for dialogue among board members.

“The chamber has said we do e-mail votes all the time, but that’s not the case. We don’t do this all the time, and we don’t do it on issues,” Crane said.

“I think it was pretty clear during the election that the chamber supported the new governor, so I don’t know why we needed to show support of this particular issue,” he added.

The Ohio Senate passed SB 5. The legislation is now in the Ohio House of Representatives.

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