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Mahoning engineer, union to meet over inmates filling potholes

Published: Wed, February 26, 2014 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Joe Gorman



The head of the Teamsters union representing employees of the Mahoning County Engineer’s Office said he expects to meet with Engineer Pat Ginnetti over the use of day-reporting county jail inmates to help fill potholes.

Rich Sandberg, head of Teamsters Local 377, also said he has not filed a grievance over the issue, as he said he was considering doing Monday.

Sandberg said he has always had a good relationship with Ginnetti and if he does anything, it will not be until after they meet sometime today.

Sheriff Jerry Greene and Ginnetti are using one rotating crew of four minimum-security inmates, or inmates in the county’s day-reporting program, to fill potholes. They’re being used to augment other county crews filling potholes because of the abundance of them so far this year due to the harsh winter.

Greene said that inmates were on the road filling potholes Tuesday, and he still supports the program.

Sandberg said he briefly talked to Ginnetti on Tuesday — and that Ginnetti apologized. Sandberg said he wished the union had been consulted before the inmates were assigned to pothole duty, and said if they had been, maybe something could have been worked out.

In an email, Ginnetti said he did not consult Sandberg before the program began because the use of inmates does not violate the union agreement with the Teamsters.

“This is not being done to replace any of my current staff, nor is it intended to take away their jobs,” Ginnetti wrote. “This is helping to assist and strengthen our workforce, during normal working hours, and provide a taxpayer savings by enabling us to repair more of our extremely damaged roadway system without spending more of our already stressed overtime budget. My crews have gone above and beyond the call of duty this year, and they continue to do so. I am not only proud of my crews, I am impressed by their commitment to the county.”

Sandberg said the reason the union is wary is because it wants to make sure that jobs are not being taken from workers by people who can do the labor for free. He said he understands why some people would be upset at his position, but he added he needs to make sure the workers the union represents are protected.

Ginnetti also said he has a “great working relationship” with Sandberg and understands his reaction and concerns. He said he’s confident the two can work out an arrangement that will benefit the residents of the county.

Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said he supports the idea as long as Ginnetti and the union can work out using the extra help.


1Knightcap(682 comments)posted 5 months ago

The county should put a committee of inmates together (at no cost to the taxpayer), to help commissioners find ways to make cuts and raise their health-care contribution.

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2YSUgrad99(200 comments)posted 5 months ago

Typical union stoogism! A great idea on using free labor to catch up our road crews on filling potholes...and It upsets the Union!

While citizens continue to get flats and bend rims, Sandberg is crying because he wasn't informed...and probably because he couldn't take credit for it either. He planned on filing a grievance...what a big baby...who voted this guy a union representative?!?! The inmates will cost the taxpayer virtually nothing, endanger zero road department jobs and fill pot holes quicker. A total win win!

Someone should punch Sandberg in the nuts so the community can move on and applaud the efforts of Ginnetti and Greene and let our darn pot holes get filled quicker!

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3walter_sobchak(1855 comments)posted 5 months ago

While you make great points, but you missed the big one. Sandberg has no grounds for a grievance because Ginnetti did not violate the contract. The union membership pays for this representation and their leader apparently doesn't read his contract. I would be more worried as a Teamster to know that the county can bring people in right off the streets to do the job! It doesn't take much training to lean on a shovel.

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4polhack(123 comments)posted 5 months ago

If it weren't for unions, someone would have already invented a one-operator vehicle that could fill and tamp potholes using on-board patch material.
As for the jail labor, they may benefit from the first-hand look at hard work. At least they will have knowledge of conditions in the wards that want to count their more hard core jailhouse occupants as voters.

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5kleener(44 comments)posted 5 months ago

You only see one person filling the potholes while the other 3 stand around and watch or sleep in the truck.

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6CantStandYa(112 comments)posted 5 months ago

Sandberg is an idiot.

I hope he gets hit by the aids truck.

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7ladiesrule(17 comments)posted 5 months ago

Sunday 4:30pm a pot hole on Southern Blvd got me. Ludt's driver said I was #17 that day...certainly not his last! New tire and labor $229.00. FYI Mahoning County property taxes are due too!

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8Millerh113(107 comments)posted 5 months ago

I believe we tried free labor once. The plantation owners loved it; the workers, no so much.

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976Ytown(1212 comments)posted 5 months ago

Milerh113: Free labor or earning your keep? What's the difference between taxpayers paying for an outside company to do the work or for having inmates contribute toward their room and board...also paid by taxpayers?

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10unbeeleeveable(4 comments)posted 5 months ago

Unions are a useless thing of the past. They are in place to protect the lazy and unproductive. I would bet that the inmates would work harder than most of the union slobs if given the chance.

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112muchtax(307 comments)posted 5 months ago

Finally got rid of the old useless sheriff and county engineer, now Ginetti and sheriff green have a good idea to make some inmates earn a little keep and this duesh bag Sandburg wants to cry foul typical union crap! The county engineers have been hiding and sliding for years running and hiding in the back room at corner resturant at 9 am for breakfast among other places! Fishing, shopping among other things on taxpayer time for years! Taxpayers would get way more if it was privatized!

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12Jerryl(105 comments)posted 5 months ago

I'm no expert on the county jail, but I'm under the impression that 'day-reports' are NOT provided room and board. IOW, they are not housed at the jail.

If that is so, then your "contribute to their room and board" is misguided.

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1376Ytown(1212 comments)posted 5 months ago

jerry: I'm no expert either. Thanks for enlightening me. I didn't realize that when you are sentenced to jail it was 9 - 5. For some silly reason I thought we still locked up minimum security inmates in a jail for their wrongdoing and had to provide their meals and a bed.

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14Jerry(487 comments)posted 5 months ago

Why is the Engineer discussing this with the union??

I pay taxes to maintain the roads in Mahoning County. I pay taxes to pay a County Engineer to manage this activity. I pay taxes to provide a jail for incarcerating criminals in Mahoning County. I pay taxes to pay a Sheriff to manage this activity.

If having inmates fill potholes on the county roads is a cost effective use of my tax dollars, then it should be done. If it is not, then it should not. As far as I am concerned, the opinion of the union is irrelevant.

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15Jerryl(105 comments)posted 5 months ago

Thought I try to get a bit more info about the day-report program.

see: http://www.vindy.com/news/2012/may/03...

In some other jurisdictions, the "inmates" not only are assigned community service projects but also attend classes to develop life skills.

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