By Bertram de Souza (Contact)
Published September 27, 2011
When the Democratic mayor of the largest city in a predominantly Democratic region with a long history of organized labor doesn’t join his colleagues at a press conference to urge the defeat of Ohio’s new collective bargaining law, that’s a headline.
Charles Sammarone took over the top job in the city of Youngstown almost two months ago, and he has quickly learned that the status quo in government is unsustainable. That’s why he isn’t as strident in his opposition to the recently passed law as other Democratic officeholders.
Last Friday, area mayors, including Michael O’Brien of Warren and Ralph Infante of Niles, urged a “no” vote on state Issue 2 that will be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. Ohioans are being asked to decide if the collective bargaining statute should take effect.
Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican controlled General Assembly pushed though the law, commonly referred to as Senate Bill 5, that rolls back many of the workplace rights enjoyed by the 300,000-plus public employees. The labor unions, along with Democrats around the state, are strongly opposed.
But Sammarone, who admits to having been a union man, says Senate Bill 5 isn’t all wrong. While he believes public employees should have the ability to collectively bargain, he says there are provisions in the law that would be good for government.
The mayor says SB 5 should be revisited so a compromise can be reached between the Republicans and the labor unions.
It not be a surprise if the governor and the legislative leadership reached out to Sammarone, given his long ties to labor and Democrats in the Valley.