Regional Chamber Board Unanimously Opposes Youngstown City Charter Amendments

Sep 30, 2016
The Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors voted unanimously at its regular meeting on Wednesday to oppose the Community Bill of Rights and Part-Time Workers’ Bill of Rights Youngstown City charter amendments, both of which will be on the November 8th General Election ballot.
The Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors voted unanimously at its regular meeting on Wednesday to oppose  the Community Bill of Rights and Part-Time Workers’ Bill of Rights Youngstown City charter amendments, both of which will be on the November 8th General Election ballot.
The Board’s opposition to the charter amendments comes on the heels of the recommendation of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Council to oppose both issues because of the dire consequences either would have on the business community if passed. 
The Community Bill of Rights charter amendment, drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund of Pennsylvania, failed in five previous attempts. If passed:
• Individuals would have the right to sue based on perceived environmental pollution.
• Lawsuits could be filed against companies, churches, contractors, labor unions and schools.
• Legal fees would have to be paid by the perceived violator, including the plaintiff’s legal fees.
• Specific bans would be placed on the manufacturing of any product used in the oil and gas business, even if the product is being used outside of the city or state.
• A specific ban would be placed on fracking, which is unenforceable because that is governed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, per the state constitution.
• And, the City of Youngstown would be required to defend the “unconstitutional” ban in court.
“Voters have already spoken up five times against this proposal because they know it is terrible for the city, its small businesses and its taxpayers,” said Regional Chamber President and CEO Tom Humphries, a member of the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment, which also opposes the measure.
“The coalition is made up of a broad, bi-partisan group of community leaders who have the city’s best interests at heart,” Humphries added. “We want voters to be educated on this proposal so they understand how many jobs would be lost and the cost to taxpayers.”
The Part-Time Bill of Rights charter amendment was drafted by Michigan businessman Robert Goodrich. If passed:
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• A Part-Time Workers’ Rights Commission would be established.
• The commission could employ staff as needed, funded by Youngstown taxpayers.
• An employer would have to provide its part-time employees who request it, at least two weeks’ notice of their work schedules.
• An employer would not be able to require a part-time employee to be on-call, except for one mutually agreed-to shift per week. Either party could cancel that shift at least 48 hours before the shift is to start.
• Employers would provide part-time employees with the same starting hourly wage as that provided to starting full-time employees who hold jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions.
• Employers would provide part-time employees with proportional access to employer-provided paid and unpaid time off, including sick leave, personal leave and vacation leave.
• Employers would provide part-time employees with the same pro-rated eligibility for other benefits afforded to full-time employees for the same job classification.
• Part-time workers are defined as those working less than 40 hours per week.
Of the charter amendment, Humphries said, “We have heard from industry groups representing organizations from restaurants to hospitals about how detrimental this would be for business in the city. It speaks volumes that the author of this amendment, who is from out of town, has made it his goal not to help the workers but to increase the number of people voting in the presidential election.”