YOUNGSTOWN Faculty contract talks turn profane; strike looms
YSU plans to conduct commencement and open classes, even if there is a strike.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Fractured contract talks with Youngstown State University faculty got even worse this week in a curse-filled meeting that concluded with the administrative bargaining team's walking out.
The raucous session Monday puts the two sides even further apart as a strike looms for the start of fall semester classes Aug. 26.
Meanwhile, the union representing YSU's classified employees reports no progress in its contract talks and is making preliminary plans for a possible strike Aug. 16, the day before summer commencement.
"We're very disappointed," said Christine Domhoff, the classified union's chief negotiator.
The university also is making strike plans. University spokesman Walter Ulbricht said vacation time for employees that has not been previously approved will not be granted from Aug. 12 to Aug. 31.
He said commencement on Aug. 17 will be conducted even if there is a walkout. "We will fulfill our responsibility to celebrate the success of our students," he said.
Ulbricht also said classes will begin Aug. 26, even if there is a strike.
"We are developing contingency plans," he said. "At this time, I can't describe those. We're having a series of meetings starting this week."
Alleges abusive language
Monday's faculty negotiations meeting ended after a faculty member used profane and abusive language toward a member of the administration's bargaining team, Ulbricht said.
"The university is committed to working hard to find a fair agreement to contract negotiations, but it cannot accept abusive behavior," he said.
Dr. John Russo, faculty union president, said the administrative team walked out after trying to put an issue on the bargaining table that previously had been removed.
"That created a certain amount of commotion," Russo said. "There were curses and insults from both parties."
Ulbricht countered: "We deny that we engaged in any kind of uncivil behavior," he said.
Russo said the university is trying to avoid bargaining and wants to manage the negotiations. He also again accused YSU of violating an agreement for a press blackout by meeting with The Vindicator in late June.
"It's getting worse," Russo said about negotiations. "All of this is an indication of the disrespect that this administration has for the faculty of this university."