NEGOTIATIONS ACE, YSU to return to talks Monday
Both sides have already agreed on about nine percent in pay increases over three years.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
and NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITERS
YOUNGSTOWN -- Representatives of Youngstown State University and the YSU Association of Classified Employees union agreed to resume talks at 9 a.m. Monday after making some progress Friday toward ending a strike now in its fifth day.
The sides met for about four hours Friday afternoon, coming to terms on two key issues said James P. Wilkins, the university's chief negotiator on this contract.
Wilkins said both sides agreed that contract language about reclassification of employees will be worded so that any new reclassification won't increase the number of positions excluded from the bargaining unit. Currently 26 positions are excluded, he said. Wilkins also said the union agreed to the status quo on overtime language.
"We've removed some significant stumbling blocks, and we'll meet Monday to pick up where we left off," he said.
Christine Domhoff, president of the YSU ACE union, said the union will look at the total package over the weekend and go into Monday's session in the hope of reaching an agreement.
Meanwhile, the union members plan to continue to picket and will respectfully make their presence known during YSU's summer commencement this morning. They plan to rally at 8 a.m. at union headquarters at the First Christian Church, then walk to Beeghly Center about 8:45 a.m. to picket outside as graduates and guests arrive for the ceremonies.
Wilkins said YSU's decision Thursday to delete language in its final contract offer to striking nonfaculty members was done to resolve the labor dispute.
First session since strike
Before Friday's bargaining session Domhoff said the changes were significant steps in the right direction.
The union, which represents about 400 nonfaculty employees, went on strike at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
Jack Yoedt, the federal mediator appointed to handle ACE negotiations, couldn't make Friday's meeting, so the two sides negotiated without him.
It was the first negotiation session between YSU and ACE since Tuesday.
Before the strike, the two sides agreed on annual salary increases over the three-year deal of 2 percent, 4 percent and 3 percent.
Besides the job classification issue, the other key obstacles in negotiations included 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.
YSU met Friday with negotiators representing its 380-member faculty union.
A "small amount of progress was made" in the negotiations, said Stan Guzell, the faculty union's chief negotiator.
No other meetings between the university and the faculty union are scheduled.
The faculty union will vote Monday on the contract offer proposed by YSU, and if it's rejected, the union will hold a strike vote, Guzell said.