By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
University will substantially reduce the pay of the president of its Association of Classified Employees union to bring it in line with a state job classification plan.
YSU President David C. Sweet notified the university’s board of trustees Monday that Ivan Maldonado, an employee in the payroll department, will be informed of the plan to lower his pay grade.
Also, the university will begin recovering both the back pay and the increase that the university believes Maldonado has “incorrectly received” since August — a move that would reduce his pay by about $21,000 annually from his current salary of $82,613.
It will do so at the risk of possible legal action.
Sweet told the trustees that the law firm of Green Haines Sgambati Co., LPA, representing the 380-member ACE union, has sent the university a letter demanding that YSU not unilaterally attempt to make changes in the negotiated contract that went into effect Aug. 15.
The university will respond to that letter, Sweet said, but he didn’t explain what that response will be.
All other provisions of the ACE contract will be and are being implemented, he said.
At issue is a portion of the job classification schedule that was made a part of the contract and agreed to by both union and university negotiators in February 2008.
University officials, including members of the trustees board, said the intent was to replace YSU’s old job classification schedule with a newer version that matched a state job classification schedule. They found later that the new version didn’t match the state in every category.
A state attorney general’s investigation found that both Craig Bickley, YSU chief human resources officer and chief negotiator, and Steve Lucivjansky, YSU manager of labor relations and director of classified staff relations, did a spot-check comparison of the university and state classification schedules and found no discrepancies before the document was signed.
The university later learned, however, that there was a significant disparity in what the state said should be the pay scale for a payroll specialist 2 and what the new classification in the ACE contract called for in that position.
It came to light in Maldonado’s request that his job be reclassified from administrative assistant 3 to payroll specialist 2, a request that came under consideration in late August.
The ACE contract called for a pay grade of 36 for the job, which put Maldanado in the range of more than $81,000 per year, but a review of the state classification schedule by Lucivjansky showed a lower pay grade of 31 for that job, a difference of about $21,000.
Bickley advised Lucivjansky to process Maldonado’s reclassification at the higher rate.
In an Oct. 14 memo to Sweet, Bickley said that he spoke with Maldonaldo about the discrepancy and that Maldonado insisted the new schedule, as signed by both negotiating parties, be followed.
Bickley said in the memo that he believes Maldonado’s duties do justify a payroll specialist 2 classification.
But Bickley also wrote that Maldonado had adjusted the pay grades upward in the classification document before it was presented and signed — and that he had trusted Maldonado’s statement that the new schedule would follow the state classification schedule.
Maldonado, a 19-year employee, remains on the job at YSU.
He has declined to comment on the matter on the advice of legal counsel.
Bickley has been placed on administrative leave by the university as a result of the investigation and also declined to comment.
“The board is very disappointed by the events related to this issue,” said Scott Schulick, president of the YSU Board of Trustees, adding that it is hoped it can be settled amicably and quickly.
“I believe the board acted and ratified the contract in good faith,” he said. It was the board’s intention that the new pact follow the Ohio job classification schedule, and the trustees relied on the report of their negotiators and administrators that this was the case, he said.
Schulick said Tuesday there are allegations in the attorney general’s investigation that the classification pay grades were intentionally altered.
Trustee Harry Meshel was the only trustee to vote against the contract in July, saying at that time that it was “overly generous.”
The three-year pact includes annual pay raises of 2.5 percent, 2.5 percent and 2.6 percent and will cost the university $4.5 million in additional spending over its life.
Meshel said Tuesday that he became particularly concerned when Bickley was unable to tell the board, during an executive session review of the agreement before the ratification vote, details of various increases in the package.
The information presented to the board at that time also lacked an appendix reflecting how the contract would affect each employee, he said, and Schulick confirmed there were no appendices attached to the information presented for board consideration.
The board was told that the state classification plan was being adopted and was assured by Bickley and others that no changes were made, and that’s what the board voted on, Meshel said.
“We relied completely on what they [the administration] told us,” he said, but, “they were not entirely informed themselves.”