Congressman involved in Mahoning Engineer’s labor dispute
By JUSTIN WIER
For the second time, Mahoning County Engineer’s office has narrowly averted a strike by its employees who belong to Teamsters Local 377.
This time, it’s because U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, has become involved.
“I’m just trying to be helpful here,” Ryan said. “It looked like there was going to be a work stoppage, and I didn’t think that was going to be a good idea at this point without giving this another shot.”
Ryan said he will have further conversations with Engineer Pat Ginnetti and the union in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
Before Ryan intervened, the Teamsters employees planned to begin a strike Monday morning after two sessions with a State Employee Relations Board mediator failed to resolve the dispute between the Teamsters and Ginnetti on issues including seniority and job protection.
Ginnetti said the statement that he has failed to make movement on those issues is “patently and unambiguously false.”
The Teamsters previously planned to strike on April 9, but that ended up being the first available date to meet with the mediator following the union’s 10-day strike notice.
That followed the decision by the Mahoning County Commissioners to reject a fact-finder’s report at the request of Ginnetti.
The Teamsters union represents about 44 employees in the Mahoning County Engineer’s office. They perform road maintainence and repairs that include plowing snow and filling potholes.
They have worked without a contract since April 2017.
The union said its major disputes with the Engineer’s office do not involve wages or wage increases.
It cites concerns about proposed policies involving seniority and job protection, including the subcontracting of work currently performed by union employees.
In the fact-finder’s report, the Engineer’s office asked to replace unlimited recall rights with two years for new hires, which would eliminate seniority for employees laid off for more than two years.
It also asked to delete the prohibition against hiring subcontractors during layoffs.
Ginnetti has argued his office has an obligation to deliver services to the residents of Mahoning County and the current contract language prohibits that.
Ginnetti cited the idea that union’s deserve a fair wage for a fair day’s work, adding that his employees are among the best paid at regional engineer’s offices.
“I want a fair day’s work for a fair wage,” Ginnetti said.
During 67 snow and ice events in the county between 2015-2018, Ginnetti said his office was unable to provide service in a timely manner on 51 occasions because union employees did not respond to call outs.