An arbiter has ordered Helen Youngblood, president of American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 2001, reinstated to her $50,960-a-year job as a training officer at the Mahoning County Department of Job and Family Services.
Robert E. Bush Jr., JFS director, who recommended she be terminated “for gross misconduct,” said she would be returning to work “as soon as practical, probably within the next week.”
The county commissioners fired her, effective Nov. 9, for asking a supervisor in an email if the supervisor had a lynching rope ready for a disciplinary meeting for Youngblood’s co-worker.
The arbiter ruled that Youngblood, of Coitsville Road, Campbell, a county employee since March 1980, should be suspended without pay for six months.
Having already served that time off the job, the arbiter, E. William Lewis, ruled Monday that she is to be paid at her regular rate from April 10 until her reinstatement, minus any unemployment benefits she may have received between April 10 and her reinstatement.
“She is to be returned to work in her former position as soon as possible,” Lewis ruled.
Youngblood’s behavior “is egregious enough to warrant a severe penalty. However, to have this particular employee leave this organization as a terminee is too harsh a penalty,” Lewis ruled.
When Youngblood was fired, Jack Filak, a regional AFSCME director, said Youngblood’s actions were part of protected union activity that occurred during her representation of a union member.
“We’re pleased that the arbitrator overturned the employer’s attempt to discharge. We’re disappointed that he found a suspension was appropriate,” Filak said Tuesday.
With about 125 members at JFS, Local 2001 is the largest labor union representing JFS workers here.