E-mail brings suspension for Mahoning County union leader - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

E-mail brings suspension for Mahoning County union leader

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The president of the Union for Workers at Mahoning County Jobs & Family Services is off the job and facing possible disciplinary action.

The matter involves the union leader's conduct at a grievance hearing and an e-mail with racial overtones.

Helen Youngblood, long-time president of AFSCME Local 20-01 at Jobs and Family Services, and the agencies director Bob Bush sat just a few feet away from each other at Thursday's County Commissioners meeting. Bush confirmed that Youngblood is currently not on the job.

Bush says the action stemmed from what he described as a tirade by Youngblood during a grievance hearing and an e-mail she sent to a JFS administrator who called for security. 

The e-mail obtained by 21 News, and also provided by Youngblood, reads in part:
"If you are that afraid of black people then maybe you should discuss your fear with Mr. Bush. Is he also black? If he is, maybe you should go to the white commissioners. Do you have a rope for lynching in your office."

Bush said he was shocked by the message.
"I was shocked in 2013 that someone would put that in writing, even to have it on their mind, but to put it in writing shocked me," he said.

Youngblood said there is "nothing derogatory, just simply questions" about her reference to the commissioners and the contents of the e-mail.
"I said 'go to the white commissioners', and the commissioners are white, no more than I am a black female...I don't see anything derogatory about that, stating what color someone is," she said.

Youngblood says speaking up at a grievance hearing is her job as union president. Commissioners say the matter is being discussed with human resources and legal counsel.   

"It is not dealing with union issues. At this point that's all I can say" Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Reghetti said.

There is no indication when a ruling will be issued regarding any action against Youngblood.

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