Union to examine revised contract language

Other issues need to be ad-dressed, the president of the nonfaculty ACE says.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State University negotiators have deleted language in their final contract offer given to striking nonfaculty members, hoping it will resolve the labor dispute.
James P. Wilkins, YSU's chief negotiator on the Association of Classified Employees union contract, said he understands a provision dealing with some job classifications included in and excluded from the bargaining unit is the main issue standing in the way of resolving the contract dispute.
"ACE thought we were trying to break the union," he said. "It's not an issue to get hung up on, and we withdrew it. Now let's focus on the important issues to get this strike settled."
ACE President Christine Domhoff said there isn't one main issue in this strike, and the union has concerns with several contract provisions offered by YSU.
YSU wanted to change contract language to avoid situations where some positions not in the ACE bargaining unit get reclassified and are then automatically included in the union, Wilkins said.
The university also wanted to change contract language that calls for people in some new job classifications to automatically become ACE members until the State Employment Relations Board determines the job's inclusion or exclusion in the union.
What's taking place
Domhoff said late Thursday that she hadn't yet read the language related to the YSU change because of organizing pickets and answering numerous telephone calls but would study the change and meet today with the union's negotiating team to discuss it.
In a letter Thursday to Domhoff, Wilkins wrote that YSU's intentions and motives on the issue are being "misrepresented," with some suggesting the proposal is designed to erode the union's membership.
"Such a scenario was never contemplated by the university," he wrote.
To avoid confusion and anger over the issue, Wilkins said YSU altered its last offer to the union Thursday to eliminate the new language.
ACE, which has about 400 nonfaculty members, went on strike Tuesday.
The union has set up around-the-clock pickets at about 14 city sidewalks near the YSU campus.
Key unresolved issues include employee contributions toward health care premiums, signing bonuses, early retirement incentive language, and the university's plan to add another salary scale to pay new hires less money and require more years on the job for those new hires before receiving salary step increases.
With ACE on strike, YSU has shut down its Web site, technical support and incoming e-mail. It also 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.
The fall semester begins Aug. 29.
YSU met Thursday with negotiators representing its 380-member faculty union. The faculty union will meet Monday to vote on the university's contract offer, and if it is rejected, its members would vote on a strike that would begin Tuesday.
YSU President David C. Sweet was to present his state-of-the-university speech Monday. But Ron Cole, a YSU spokesman, said the speech has been postponed because of the ACE strike and the potential for a faculty strike.
ACE began picketing Thursday outside Sweet's Liberty home and outside the work places of members of the YSU trustees, Domhoff said. The picketing won't stop until a deal is reached, she said.

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