Union files grievance over inmate pothole program

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — There could be a fight brewing between Teamsters Local 377 and the Mahoning County Engineer over some of the people being used to fill potholes on county roads.

A week after Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti sat down with the head of the local union representing county road crews, county officials said the union plans to challenge a new program created to get potholes filled a little quicker.

A grievance has been filed over the use of day reporting inmates, who are people convicted of non-violent crimes and chose to work off their obligations rather than spend time in the Mahoning County Jail.

“They do work for non-profits, landscaping, and this idea of filling potholes, especially this year, with as bad as it’s been, to me it was just a no-brainer,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.

A team of those workers was out on Friday filling potholes in Green Township in southern Mahoning County.

Greene, who pushed for the idea, along with Ginnetti, said he sees nothing wrong with it.

“Because I don’t believe that anybody’s job was taken. We’re not cutting into any overtime. What we were basically trying to do was put together a service where inmates would help give a little back to the community,” Greene said.

Officials with Teamsters Local 377 could not be reached for comment on the dispute. However, Greene said until the grievance has been resolved, he plans to continue sending day reporting crews out to fill potholes for as long as they’re needed.

Ginnetti, who is out of town, said previously that day reporting adds extra people on the road free of charge without impacting union workers. In fact, a number of Ginnetti’s employees were part of the team in Green Township Friday afternoon.

Members of the crew said they would rather be filling potholes than be behind bars.

“It’s better off doing this than sitting in the county jail. I would rather do this eight hours a day than go sit in there four hours a day,” said day reporting inmate Chris Royal.

County commissioners said they hope the issue can be resolved.

“Potholes to me are a public safety issue and any assistance we can get with respect to that and not displacing somebody that’s currently working, that’s employed, benefits all people and all concerned,” said Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler.

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