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YSU NEGOTIATIONS Initial proposals show sides at odds



Published: Sat, June 11, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



YSU is offering annual raises of 1.5 percent and no enrollment incentives.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown State University classified civil service staff union is seeking in its initial three-year contract proposal a 5 percent annual raise and an enrollment incentive up to $1,350 added to their base salary rate each year.

The university's initial proposal is for 1.5 percent annual raises and the elimination of enrollment incentives. The current contract calls for annual raises of 3 percent.

A reporter from The Vindicator made a verbal public records request Thursday and a formal written request Friday to the university seeking the initial contract proposals from the 400-member YSU Association of Classified Employees union and the YSU management negotiating team. The request was honored about 1:15 p.m. Friday.

About two hours later, the YSU chapter of the Ohio Education Association, which assists negotiations with three unions at the university included ACE, filed a request in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for a temporary restraining order to stop YSU from releasing the document.

The restraining order request states releasing the information would "act contrary to law, contrary to long-standing past practice between the parties, contrary to public policy regarding the private nature of the negotiation process." If the documents are released, the court filing says the union "will suffer... irreparable harm and damage."

The request was assigned to Judge R. Scott Krichbaum, who had left for the day when the document was filed. Also, no others judges were available to sign the TRO.

The newspaper also wanted documents dealing with the faculty union negotiations but was denied because the two sides have a "blackout" agreement meaning neither side will discuss specifics with the public or the press. The two sides have met 11 times, and officials with both sides say negotiations are progressing.

Holidays and retirement

Besides the pay increases and enrollment incentives, ACE asked in its initial proposal to have its members' contribution into the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System reduced from 8.5 percent to 5 percent, and for the university to establish a "distinguished classified civil service award program" with cash awards from $750 to $1,500 for 24 members.

The union wants to increase personal days from two to five, allow members to cash in up to 10 days of vacation a year, add four more paid holidays and make Election Day a fully-paid holiday instead of a partial one, and make every Saturday shift from noon to midnight a paid holiday.

Management wants to keep the 10 paid holidays and Election Day as a partial one, and eliminate language in the current contract that allows union members to have holidays on any day recommended by the Ohio governor or president of the United States.

ACE's current contract with the university expires Aug. 15. The two sides exchanged the initial proposals on May 25, and began negotiating June 7.

Tension

There is somewhat of a strain between the two sides.

Christine Domhoff, the union president, said she wanted to start negotiating with the university a year ago, but that request was ignored. Also, YSU has eliminated Domhoff's job at the Cisco Networking Academy effective June 30.

Domhoff has filed complaints with the Ohio Personnel Board of Review and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. Domhoff's job was externally funded, and the money to pay her salary is gone. On her appointment form for the Cisco job, it states that her position is not subject to the ACE contract layoff and recall positions. Domhoff, a 23-year YSU employee, said YSU didn't take the proper steps to eliminate the job.

Contract conditions

The current contract calls for classified employees to get up to $600 a year in enrollment incentives. It could not be determined Friday how much the union members received in those incentives during the past three years. YSU wants to entirely eliminate the incentives while ACE wants to push them as high as $1,350 annually.

The current contract language on health care has classified union members paying $5 for doctor visits, $2 for generic drugs and $12 for name-brand drugs. Before the 2002 deal, there was no cost to the union for doctor visits or generic drugs, and for them to pay $2 for name-brand drugs. The union also agreed in 2002 to eliminate traditional medical coverage. Domhoff has said the concessions saved YSU more than $2 million over the life of the contract.

The union's initial proposal for the new contract calls for the elimination of the $5 doctor copayments, enhances dental benefits and adds Lasik eye surgery to the vision benefits.

YSU management wants the union to contribute 10 percent of the premiums of one type of medical benefit coverage. If union members take the other medical benefit coverage, the university will continue to pay 100 percent of the premiums. The contracts don't disclose the specifics of the two medical coverages.

Management wants to change contract language regarding layoffs. Employees are currently given 60-days' notice before their layoff -- 63 days if it's done through the mail. YSU management wants to change the language to not less than 10-days' advanced notice.

Management also wants to change contract language when it comes to retirees cashing in their unused sick time. Currently, retirees get paid a percentage for unused sick hours up to 1,500. They get 25 percent pay for the first 500 hours, 40 percent for the next 500 hours, and 50 percent for the next 500 hours. Management's initial proposal calls for a flat 25 percent payout to retirees up to 1,500 hours.

The union wants more money for working the night shift, hazardous duty pay up to 10 percent of their base salary, and a 5 percent pay increase for professional achievement.

skolnick@vindy.com




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