YSU labor leader’s pay raise is probed

By Elise Franco

ACE President Ivan Maldonado saw increases totaling about 75 percent in the past two fiscal years, YSU documents show.

YOUNGSTOWN — A top union leader “benefited substantially” in the latest Youngstown State University labor agreement, university trustees say.

According to documents obtained from YSU and a source close to the university’s internal investigation, Ivan Maldonado, Association of Classified Employees president, saw his salary increased by about 75 percent from fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2009 — from $46,264 to $82,613.

Maldonado has been with the university 19 years and is now payroll administrative assistant. He was chief negotiator for the union during contract talks.

His salary increased after the board of trustees’ July approval of the ACE contract. The pact took effect Aug. 15.

After trustees learned of the pay raise in October, they launched an investigation that resulted in placing Craig Bickley, chief human resources officer and chief negotiator, on administrative leave Thursday for an undetermined period.

Maldonado, asked about the pay increase by The Vindicator on Friday, responded: “According to our legal counsel, I have no comment on the situation at this time.”

During the contract negotiations, Bickley was the lead representative for the university administration. The university documents, however, state Bickley didn’t notify administrators of Maldonado’s job reclassification and pay raise before Bickley processed the increase.

Bickley could not be reached Friday.

According to records provided by the university after The Vindicator filed a public records request Friday, Maldonado’s salary was $46,264 in fiscal year 2008.

After ACE contract negotiations in fiscal year 2008 and an earlier job reclassification, Maldonado’s salary was bumped to $52,798.

In the most recent ACE negotiations for fiscal 2009, and because of a conversion to a new pay scale and classification plan, his pay increased to $59,498.

The pay scale shows another job reclassification and a 37 percent jump in pay to $82,613 for Maldonado after the new contract and a reclassification to payroll specialist 2.

Under the contract, 380 nonfaculty employees were to receive annual pay increases of 2.5 percent the first year, followed by 2.5 percent and 2.6 percent the second and third years, respectively.

YSU’s board ratified the contract in a 7-1 vote, with member Harry Meshel dissenting on grounds at the time that the contract was “overly generous.”

The 37 percent increase in Maldonado’s pay was detected by Neil McNally, the budget director responsible for implementing reclassifications, according to another university document.

In October, the budget office brought the discrepancy to the attention of the university’s administration and general counsel.

YSU investigated, then contacted the Ohio Attorney General’s office, and the state launched an investigation.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office concluded that the intent of the ACE contract was to align YSU’s classification system with the state’s system, but “the classification plan put into place was not an exact match with the state plan,” according to the trustees’ Thursday statement.

The trustees’ statement included a pledge to amend the issue quickly by having the administration implement Ohio’s job classification system for all YSU members of ACE “as was the intent of the contract approved by the board.”

At a special meeting Thursday, trustees announced their intent to take steps to rectify the issue. Maldonado wasn’t named at the meeting.

On Friday, a letter from Green Haines Sgambati Co., LPA, representing the YSU-ACE, was delivered to YSU President David Sweet.

The letter demanded the university halt plans to amend the issue quickly.

“If the university goes forward with these or any other modifications, appropriate legal action will be pursued,” the letter stated.

Ron Cole, manager of news and information services, declined to comment on the law firm’s letter.

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