Teamsters, Mahoning County Engineer reach tentative agreement in labor dispute
Vote set for later this week
By Graig Graziosi
The Mahoning County Engineer’s Office and Teamsters Local 377 reached a tentative agreement Monday after a year of bargaining.
Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti, representatives from his office and union members reached a tentative agreement after more than 24 hours of negotiations over the weekend.
“We’re hopeful and optimistic that the agreement will get finalized soon,” Ginnetti said.
According to a Teamster statement, working conditions, seniority and service issues for Mahoning County residents were discussed during the negotiations.
“I’m glad to hear there’s a tentative agreement,” said county Commissioner David Ditzler. “We’ve talked to [Engineer Pat Ginnetti] many times to make sure they were communicating at the table. We’ve been pushing, as county commissioners, to not leave the table until there is a resolution, and I’m pleased that’s what happened.”
The Teamsters, who have been working without a contract since April 2017, will be presented with the tentative agreement by the Mahoning County Engineers Office for a vote later this week.
“Everything was agreed upon, so now the language will get cleaned up, and the agreement will be given to each side to review and to ensure accuracy, and then it’ll get sent to the union members for a vote,” Ginnetti said.
Negotiations between the parties almost broke down in April when a State Employee Relations Board mediator was unable to reconcile the dispute.
As a result, the Teamsters were on the verge of calling for a strike, though an intervention by Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, helped stall a walkout. On Monday he issued a statement thanking the Teamsters and the county Engineer’s office for settling the dispute.
“I am pleased that the Mahoning County Engineers and the Teamsters union were able to sit down and work through the weekend to make this tentative deal possible,” Ryan said. “While we are not yet through the finish line, I applaud the progress made today and look forward to the union vote and getting back to work.”
Union representatives said their disputes with the county weren’t solely about wages or wage increases, but were instead focused on issues of seniority, job protection and the county hiring subcontractors during layoff periods.
Ginnetti argued that provisions in the current contract prohibited him from providing necessary services – such as snow plowing and pothole repair – to the residents of the county – and that some union workers weren’t doing their jobs when they were called out for service.
Ginnetti said the reduction in union employees at the engineers office from 70 to 44 forced the county to change its policies to provide services efficiently, and that the union workers were already among the best-paid county employees, earning between $51,000 and $64,000 salaries depending on the held position.
The union members responded by posting Ginnetti’s earnings in 2017 on their Facebook page, which showed he earned $108,735 as the county engineer and an additional $36,000 as sanitary engineer, making him the highest-paid employee in the county.
Contributors: David Skolnick and Justin Wier