Morning Headlines: UAW Sues GM to Prevent Lordstown, Other Plant Closures; UA Baseball Gets $1M Gift

Feb 27, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, Feb. 27:

  • Union sues GM to prevent plant closures;
  • DeWine: No executions until procedures change;
  • DeWine nominates physician to lead state health department;
  • Ohio defends "The Youngstown Plan" in Supreme Court;
  • Revived University of Akron baseball program gets $1M gift;
  • Funding package for conservation programs heads to Trump's desk;
  • Cuyahoga County Council approves $30M for housing development;
  • Smucker reports low net income, increased sales;
  • Ohio senator proposes work requirment for Medicaid recipients;
  • Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank kicks off annual hunger campaign;

UAW sues GM to prevent Lordstown, other plant closures
United Auto Workers has sued General Motors from closing three plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland, claiming the union's current contract forbids the company from idling them. GM announced plans in November to end production at U.S. plants including Lordstown. The UAW's lawsuit includes a 2015 letter from GM Vice President Catherine Clegg that said her correspondence "confirms" the company won't close, idle, sell off or consolidate plants during the union contract, which expires in September. GM said in a statement Tuesday that the company's announcement last year about the closings doesn't violate the UAW contract.

DeWine: No executions until procedures change
Recent statements and actions by Gov. Mike DeWine suggest Ohio could go years without executing another death row inmate. Last month, DeWine ordered the prison system to come up with a new lethal drug protocol after a federal judge's scathing critique of the first drug in Ohio's method. DeWine postponed an execution scheduled for this month until September, although that would be contingent on the state having a new, court-approved lethal injection system in place, which is unlikely in that time frame.

DeWine nominates physician to lead state health department
Gov. Mike DeWine has nominated a licensed physician with more than 30 years of experience in public health and preventive medicine to direct Ohio's Department of Public Health. Dr. Amy Acton most recently served as a community research and grants management officer at the Columbus Foundation. The director's role is to lead the department in its mission to protect and improve Ohioans' health by preventing disease, promoting good health and assuring access to quality care.

State defends "The Youngstown Plan" in Supreme Court
The state of Ohio said lawmakers did not violate the Ohio Constitution or a procedural rule when they passed a law that shifted control of poor-performing school districts. That’s part of a new filing at the Ohio Supreme Court which is weighing a challenge to the law known as the Youngstown Plan. It puts control of troubled school districts in the hands of unelected CEOs hired by state-appointed academic distress commissions, instead of their local school boards. The bill was pushed through the Legislature in one day in 2015. A legal challenge by the Youngstown school board and school union members claims the plan violates the constitution by stripping the school boards' authority. An appeals court previously sided with the state.

Revived University of Akron baseball program gets $1M gift
The University of Akron's revived baseball program is getting a huge boost. Former Akron player William Skeeles and his wife Mary have donated $1 million to the program that was cut back in 2015 as part of $40 million in budget cuts. The donation will go toward renovating the baseball stadium’s playing surface — the first phase of a $2 million upgrade of the Zips’ baseball stadium on campus ahead of the 2020 return season. Skeeles is CEO and president of PointeNorth Insurance Group in Georgia.

Funding package for conservation programs heads to Trump's desk
The U.S. House has followed the Senate by approving a funding package that includes provisions for the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area and local bird conservation programs. The measure sponsored by both Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown lifts a federal funding cap mistakenly left in place for the canalway that stretches from Cleveland to New Philadelphia. The bill also provides $6.5 million each year for conservation of the bird migratory routes over Lake Erie and its shoreway. The legislation next heads to President Trump’s desk.

Cuyahoga County Council approves $30M for housing development
Cuyahoga County Council has unanimously approved a $30 million housing program to help stabilize home values and provide affordable housing. Cleveland.com reports the six-year program will have the county land bank identify places suitable for renovation, and provide financial assistance for current or potential homeowners. The program will be funded with nearly $22 million from delinquent property tax fees and nearly $8 million from casino tax revenues. 

Smucker reports low net income, increased sales for third quarter
Orrville-based J.M. Smucker Co.’s third-quarter earnings show net income plunged, but it still exceeded analysts’ expectations. Net income for the third quarter was about $121 million, down 85 percent the same period a year ago. However, sales increased 6 percent to about $2 billion for the quarter, which Smucker’s attributes to its purchase of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition last May.

Ohio senator proposes work requirment for Medicaid recipients
A Republican state senator has proposed legislation that would require Medicaid recipients to work for at least 20 hours a week. Matt Huffman of Lima said current requirements aren’t strict enough, resulting in people leaving their jobs and still getting health insurance. The bill does have exemptions for college students, people in treatment programs and those who are deemed unfit for employment. The requirements would apply to adults up to 50 years old who became eligible for Medicaid in 2014. Officials say if the bill passes, 36,000 Ohioans could lose their coverage.

Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank kicks off annual hunger campaign
The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank has kicked off its 28th annual Harvest for Hunger Campaign. The goal this year is to raise more than $1.3 million and provide more than 5 million meals for people in Northeast Ohio. Last year, the agency donated more than $38 million worth of food throughout the region. The campaign runs until the end of April. Last year it raised nearly $1.3 million.