Group used in Blade talks has long historyWritten by Justin R. Kalmes | | email@example.com
Martin Fitts heads an organization that has been a contributor to the Toledo community for 60 years yet draws little public notice. Fitts said that is exactly the way he likes it.
Fitts serves as executive director of the Toledo Labor-Management-Citizens Committee, a group of representatives from the management, labor and public sectors that helps resolve grievance and bargaining disputes between unions and management.
“We’re like the umpire at a baseball game,” Fitts said. “If the umpire does a good job and the game runs smoothly, nobody notices there’s an umpire.”
Former executive director Louis Thomson Jr. said, “A lot of the things the LMC engaged in were because of the caliber of its members. Much of the stuff was done very quietly without any fanfare or publicity. From the beginning, a good share of it was kind of behind the scenes.”
Formed in 1946 by Toledo City Council, the LMC originally was used as an economic development magnet to attract manufacturing facilities to the area. Fitts said it was the first organization of its kind in the nation and served as a model for labor management citizen committees that subsequently formed in other areas. Today, the LMC consists of 48 members and is used primarily in grievance arbitration and mediation cases, Fitts said. He said the only other such organization existing today is in Louisville, Ky. The LMC is totally funded by the City of Toledo, which pays for Fitts’ and a half-time secretary’s salaries. Its annual budget is $131,000. Full members are appointed by Toledo City Council.
The organization recently made news when it was called in to aid in collective bargaining between The Blade and its unions.
“Everything we do is voluntary on the part of the parties that come to us,” Fitts said. “We have no compelling authority to make people use our services.”
Fitts said the LMC services are different from those of a federal mediator in that it utilizes peer groups to resolve labor disputes. When called upon, a three-member panel consisting of labor, management and public representatives provides involved parties with a mediated settlement, recommendation or binding decision, depending on what was requested.
Fitts said he believes LMC hearings tend to be less adversarial than other grievance resolution and collective bargaining methods.
“People listen to people like [LMC members],” he said.
Another service the LMC provides is conducting union elections and polling workers to determine if a majority of the workplace wishes to be represented by a union. Fitts said he has done a considerable amount of that work this year because several suppliers to the Toledo Jeep plant have been working to obtain UAW representation. He said using a local resource such as the LMC saves the company and its workers time.
Though there is no formal way to measure the LMC’s success rate, Fitts said he could recall only one instance during his 14 years with the organization that a mediation settlement was not reached.
“Virtually anytime they’re working with us in grievances, they’re getting the result they’re asking for,” he said.
Toledo City Councilman George Sarantou said getting the LMC involved with labor disputes is typically helpful. He said he believes the organization continues to exist because the city hopes to avoid labor strife and values the economic benefit of people working.
Said Rob Ludeman, council president: “It’s appropriate that in any stalled issue … that the LMC is a pretty close part of it.”
Fitts said if the community did not value services provided by the LMC, the organization would not have survived as long as it has.
“If the union and management folks were unhappy with LMC they would express it by not using us,” he said.
A list of current TLMC Full Members, according to the group’s Web site at http://lmcenter.utoledo.edu/lmc-membership.htm
William J. Brennan
President, Associated General Contractors Of NW Ohio
Retired, DaimlerChrysler Toledo Jeep
David G. Huey
Director and President, Block Communications
Retired, Human Resource Manager
David J. Walrod,
President, DBM, Inc.
CEO, Hinkle Manufacturing, Inc.
Vice President, Operations, Toth Industries
James J. Murtagh
President, Gerity-Schultz Corporation
William G. Logie
Vice President, Human Resources, Medical University of Ohio
Gerald J. Bowsher
Human Resource Director, TARTA
Director, Region 2-B, UAW
Executive Secretary, Toledo Area AFL-CIO
Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 20
Business Manager, IBEW Local Union #8
President, Teamsters Local 20
Executive Secretary, Northwestern Ohio Building Trades
Regional Director, AFSCME Ohio Council 8
President, Toledo Federation of Teachers
Local No. 250
National Vice President, Lakes American Maritime Officers
Assistant Director, Region 2-B, UAW
Sister Ann Francis
President Emerita, Lourdes College
Attorney at Law
John Klocinski, Ph.D.
Professor of Business, Owens Community College
LMC Chairman, Retired
University of Toledo
Rev. Howard Abts
Interim Pastor, Glenwood Lutheran Church
James M. Klein
Professor, Law, University of Toledo
Rev. John R. Kimble
Retired Episcopal Priest
Rev. Paul Kwiatkowski
Pastor, Immaculate Conception Catholic Parish
Thomas G. Gutteridge,
Dean, College of Business Administration
University of Toledo
Executive Director, NWO Center for L-M Cooperation