The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

December 5, 2012

Union files grievance over job transfers

— The union representing three city workers whose jobs were outsourced is asking the Johns­town Redevelopment Authority to live up to the contract.

“It is a clear violation,” local union President Craig Cernic told the authority members Wednesday during a special meeting.

Cernic cited contract language guaranteeing no lockouts or transfers except through negotiations.

“They brought nonunion people into union jobs,” Cernic said.

The three employees, Sue Truscello, Brenda Saintz and Kelly Smith, staffed the Johns­town Regional Sewer office at 410 Main St. under a contract with the redevelopment authority, which owns the sewer operation.

On Friday, they said they were told at 3:15 p.m. to have all their personal belongings out of the office by 4 p.m.

The office reopened Tuesday with three new workers, employed by Software Systems Inc. The Allegheny County firm was awarded the contract for sewer billing earlier this year.

Truscello, Saintz and Smith were told to report to the Dornick Point sewage treatment plant for clerical duties.

On Wednesday, the redevelopment authority, without discussion, approved amendments to the Software Systems contract to cover additional staff.

Rates approved were $30 an hour for clerical work, and $40 an hour for supervisory work.

Authority Solicitor William Barbin said the three jobs include two clerical staff and one supervisor.

The city workers made between $9 and $18 an hour, Cernic said.

A second vote authorizes Frank D’Ettorre of the authority staff to work with city Manager Kristen Denne to create new jobs for the three displaced workers at the sewage plant.

Johnstown businessman Mark Pasquerilla questioned the sagacity of a contract amendment.

“Do you think it’s prudent to let out contracts until an audit is performed?” Pasquerilla said at Wednesday’s meeting. “Slow down in letting contracts until that is done.”

Cernic said his unit 17 of United Steel Workers Local 2635 has filed a grievance over the job transfers and nonunion replacements.

“Grievances are dealt with through the city,” Barbin said.

The authority has responsibility, Cernic said. Although authority Chairman Monsignor Raymond Balta told The Tribune-Democrat the office staffers wanted to remain city employees when the sewer operation was sold to the authority in 2003, Cernic said the union has asked for the opposite.

“Every contract for 10 years, we wanted to go to the authority,” Cernic said. “We technically work for whoever owns the plant. The city collects the money for our paychecks.”

Smith said the three workers were humiliated when their jobs were eliminated. With a combined 33 years in the office, the three had accumulated boxes of personal items, including Christmas decorations, lunch supplies and family pictures.

“They treated us like criminals,” Smith said, adding the locks on the door were immediately changed. The three have not been able to retrieve all of their personal property.

Their transfer culminated months of problems with the new software set up by Software Systems. The new company did not provide adequate training and had nobody available to help with specific questions.

“We didn’t even have phone numbers to call,” Smith said. “All we had was email.”

Response was unreliable, she added.

While the three were trying to learn the new system, it was kicking out erroneous bills. That meant the office staff also had to field phone calls and deal with irate customers fuming over $200,000 sewer bills.

Several meetings were scheduled with authority management, but D’Ettorre kept canceling meetings after the first one, Cernic said.

The three believe they were assigned to the sewage plant to prompt them to quit.

“I can’t stop at the grocery store on my way home because I smell,” Saintz said.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local briefs 4/20/2014

    April 19, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 19, 2014

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 19, 2014

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads