SGA encourages students to attend classes
Student government leaders want a quick end to the nonfaculty strike.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- While sympathetic to striking union members, the Youngstown State University Student Government Association recommends students attend classes if they are offered.
"Coming to class while there is a strike is a personal decision," said SGA President Bob McGovern, a Boardman senior majoring in political science. "But no one should fault us for coming here to learn."
McGovern said Wednesday that he and other student government leaders are urging a quick settlement to the strike by YSU's nonfaculty union, which began Tuesday. There are no negotiations scheduled between the university and the nonfaculty union.
If the YSU Association of Classified Employees, with about 400 members, is still on the picket line when fall semester begins Aug. 29, the university should consider delaying classes, he said.
But if that isn't an option, McGovern said SGA officials will ask ACE leaders to limit pickets at key entrance ways to the campus so students don't have to cross picket lines.
McGovern cannot envision classes being held at YSU if the faculty union joins ACE on the picket line.
The faculty union will negotiate today with YSU. The union, with about 380 members, will take a vote Monday to strike Tuesday if a deal isn't ironed out by then.
The ACE strike is greatly impacting students, McGovern said.
Those wanting to register for classes cannot do it online because YSU's Web site is shut down. Students have to come to campus to register.
YSU also eliminated its telephone switchboard, technical support and incoming e-mail, and closed the computer laboratory, the Office of Student Activities and Diversity Programs and Student Health Services. Also, there is only one way in to several buildings on campus, and professional staff is doing some of the work formerly done by ACE members.
Ivan Maldonado, ACE vice president, said YSU administrators are calling striking workers at home requesting assistance.
"We've instructed our members to say that they're on strike," he said. "The university needs to get back to the table and negotiate. They're not hurting ACE. They're hurting the students."
Also, a maintenance employee quit the ACE union Wednesday and crossed the picket line, Maldonado said.
Stan Guzell, the faculty union's chief negotiator, said he thinks the contract offer from the university to ACE was a bad deal.
The YSU-proposed three-year deal called for annual salary increases of 2 percent, 4 percent and 3 percent. But it also called for ACE members to pay 1.5 percent of their salary for family health care premiums and 0.75 of 1 percent for single coverage. The union's counterproposal included smaller health care premium contributions and signing bonuses.
YSU will hold its summer commencement Saturday. Forty-five faculty members have signed up to participate in the commencement. Those faculty union members must attend the commencement, Guzell said, under the union's contract with YSU.
But some of them will wear buttons on their robes in support of the ACE union, he said.
Also, several faculty members and members of other local unions will walk the picket line Saturday with strikers, said ACE President Christine Domhoff.
"We have no intention of stopping people going to commencement, but we will be a major presence on campus that day," she said.
Guzell and Domhoff said Saturday's commencement is an important event for graduates and their family and friends, and they will not do anything to disrupt it.
Ron Cole, YSU spokesman, said the university has no reason to believe there will be any problems at the commencement. But YSU will use additional security and police at the ceremony, according to the university's ACE strike contingency plan.
YSU police are working longer shifts during the first two days of the strike, and are at key entrance positions to the university around the clock.
Unionized building trade members refused to work on projects at YSU on Tuesday. But work resumed Wednesday on the construction of a $12.1 million recreation and wellness center, Cole said. Work on other projects was to resume today, he said.