Mahoning commissioners reject fact-finder report on engineer contract
By Justin Wier
Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti said the fact-finder’s report on the contract between his office and Teamsters Local 377 did not adequately address the productivity and delivery of services the public deserves.
The fact finder “did make some decisions we were looking for, but we don’t feel like there was enough there given the service the residents of Mahoning County deserve,” Ginnetti said.
He added that the union’s employees are “already paid quite well.”
A copy of the fact-finder’s report obtained by The Vindicator shows that issues including compensation, scheduling and overtime created distance between the negotiating parties.
The Mahoning County commissioners voted this week to reject the fact-finder’s report at Ginnetti’s recommendation.
The move will send the parties back to the bargaining table, which prompted an outcry from Teamsters’ vice president Ken Sabo, who noted that his union has been without a contract since April 30, 2017.
“We’ve spent a year on this,” Sabo said. “We’ve spent a lot of taxpayer money … [and] we’d like to get this done.”
County Commissioner David Ditzler told Sabo the commissioners serve as a “pass-through” entity when it comes to approving or rejecting contracts within county departments outside their purview.
“We take the recommendation of the department head that comes through because they have a better understanding than we do,” Ditzler said.
On compensation, the union sought to receive three 5 percent across-the-board wage increases effective May 1 2017, 2018 and 2019. It also proposed reducing the wage schedule so members reached the top rate after five years instead of seven. The engineer’s office recommended three 1 percent lump-sum payments in lieu of raises and proposed an extended 16-step wage schedule.
The fact-finder noted that the wages at the top step of the pay schedule are some of the highest among regional county engineer departments, but suggested “reasonable” pay increases including a 1.5-percent lump-sum payment in the first year, with 2 and 3 percent raises in the second and third year of the contract respectively.
The fact-finder also suggested adopting the extended wage schedule for new employees only.
Among other issues, the engineer’s office sought to create the ability to schedule workers for 10-hour shifts and to eliminate the requirement for five consecutive work days and to only pay overtime when workers exceed 40 hours in a week as opposed to eight hours in a day.
With the union reduced from 70 employees to 44 employees, the engineer’s office argued the proposed changes are necessary to maintain efficiency. It argued other county offices use the 40-hour overtime rule.
The fact-finder sided with the union and denied both requests.