YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The long-time union president for workers at Mahoning County’s Department of Job and Family Services will be getting her job back after officials tried to have her fired.
County Commissioners voted to terminate Helen Youngblood on Nov. 8 for sending what supervisors claimed was a racist email concerning security at the JFS offices. She was placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 26, which was immediately after the incident.
Youngblood appealed her termination, claiming the email was protected union activity, but an arbitrator disagreed.
“And he was very clear that it was not protected activity. And we went on to say that it did warrant discipline, up to and including discharge,” said Mahoning County Department of Job and Family Services Director Robert Bush.
However, the arbitrator ruled firing was too harsh a penalty and instead approved a six-month unpaid suspension. Since Youngblood had been off the job since November, her suspension would have been completed in early April, meaning she now will receive roughly two months of back pay.
It is unclear when Youngblood will return to work.
Youngblood has worked for the agency for 34 years and has been the president of the Ohio Council 8 AFSCME Local 2001 for 32 years, according to the arbitration agreement.