The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 3, 2012

YDC has only one pending grievance

By CARL E. FEATHER - cfeather@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

— Despite the numerous complaints levied by former YDC employee Jonathon Williams, only one grievance has been filed by members of the union.

Court Administrator Kathy Thompson said YDC Director Brian Perusek is at the front line when it comes to hearing the concerns of employees. If he cannot resolve the issue, it is forwarded to Thompson, and from there, to Juvenile Court Judge Charles Hague. When the judge can’t resolve the issue, it goes to arbitration.

The YDC has only one grievance pending, said Thompson, and it is related to a money issue. There are no grievances pending regarding training, safety, staffing or supplies.

Williams was terminated prior to completing his probationary period, therefore he will not be eligible for filing a grievance. Further, Perusek and Thompson said he rejected their efforts to talk to him about the termination.

Thompson said “probably the biggest complaint we hear from the union deals with medication.” She said the YDC addressed that by using a contract nurse to take that responsibility off the staff.

The YDC and union signed a new agreement in January. Thompson said the center has cut back on overtime pay as a result of streamlining the operation, but at the same time has been hiring.

Perusek defended the staffing at the facility, which can have up to 20 residents. He said the state minimum is one staff person for every 14 residents, and they have at least two people on every shift. The YDC has nearly two dozen on staff, despite having the budget cut from nearly $1 million several years ago to $818,000.

Thompson said this revamping of the operation, using government commodities for the food-service side, going after grants and tapping the resources of outside agencies and the Educational Service Center have allowed the YDC to do more with less. Hague praised Thompson for running a tight ship and helping the YDC and court have a great relationship with county commissioners, who fund the services through the general fund. Three years ago, the relationship between the court and commissioners was so stormy, the judge sued the county and won in the Ohio Supreme Court.

“We have a good relationship with the commissioners now,” Hague said. “Kathy looked at every program and made the changes that were necessary. And that’s why we’re in the great shape we’re in now.”