facebooktwitterRSS
- Advertisement -
  • Most Commentedmost commented up
  • Most Emailedmost emailed up
  • Popularmost popular up
- Advertisement -
 

« News Home

At YSU, ‘me-too’ defines greed



Published: Sun, July 19, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


By Bertram de Souza

If employees at Youngstown State University had not shown such unadulterated greed in gorging themselves on pay raises in the midst of a national economic recession that has hit the Mahoning Valley harder than most regions in the state, students would not have to bear the burden of a 3.5 percent tuition increase in the coming academic year.

On Tuesday, the board of trustees, under the guidance and direction of President David Sweet and members of his Cabinet, approved raising the undergraduate yearly tuition of $6,721 by $235 starting this fall. At the same, the trustees approved a new three-year contract for the professional and administrative staff. It’s loaded with increases of 3 percent for 2009-10, 4 percent for 2010-11 and 3.5 percent for 2011-12 and other goodies.

Boosting the base

For example, for a full-time employee who has been at YSU for at least 20 years, there is a $50 longevity payment for each year of service. That sum is added to the base salary, upon which the pay raises are calculated.

A full-time employee with less than 20 years will receive a lump-sum bonus of $50 for each year of service. The sum, however, will be a one-time payment.

Employees are also rewarded for earning advanced degrees — love for learning? Get real. More like love of earning. And, they will get a boatload of holidays. As for the health-care and retirement benefits, they’re beyond the comprehension of the poor slobs in the private sector.

But the Association of Professional/Administrative Staff’s three-year contract approved by the trustees is merely a continuation of the giveaways that began with the faculty contract, followed by the one with the Association of Classified Employees. That pact has generated both controversy and lawsuits. An agreement with the police union will soon be inked.

So it goes. Me-too, me-too, me-too.

Faculty union leaders went into negotiations knowing that the university did not want a strike while it was celebrating its 100th anniversary last year. The contract that was subsequently approved by all but one member of the board of trustees was so lucrative that the other unions saw the handwriting on the wall: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

The one trustee who voted against that contract was Don Cagigas, a retired bank executive and the head of United Way. Cagigas’ reason for voting no was unambiguous: Youngstown State cannot afford such an expensive three-year pact. His term on the board has expired.

For those who view the $235 tuition increase as no big deal, consider this:

For the 2008-09 school year, there was a 2.5 percent increase in faculty base salary. But that’s not all. By rank, there was a bonus, which resulted in a full professor, for instance, receiving $1,800 that was added to the base salary.

Then, a member of the faculty union hired before June 1, 2008, received a longevity increase of $50 for each year of service. Thus, a faculty member with 30 years received $1,500 — that also was added to the base salary.

By some calculations, the entire first-year package resulted in an 8 percent increase for veteran professors.

In the next two years of the contract, the faculty will receive boosts of 3.5 percent to their new base salaries.

Once the administration and trustees agreed to this contract, the stage was set for the “me-too” chorus. And unless someone on campus steps forward and says “Enough!” the labor contracts will become self-fulfilling prophecies.

A ‘no’ vote

Last week, one trustee did say no. It is no surprise that the folks at YSU aren’t wild about Harry — Meshel, that is, a veteran politician who once served as president of the Ohio Senate. Meshel also turned thumbs down on the tuition increase. His reasoning was just as cogent as that of Cagigas: It is patently unfair for the university to fatten the wallets of the employees, while requiring students to pay more in tuition.

The trustees should have demanded concessions in the APAS contract. A wage freeze, or even a giveback, would have sent a strong message to the community at large and the campus population in particular.

Then they could have asked the other unions to reopen their contracts to negotiate concessions.

That kind of “me-too” is the good kind.


Comments

1bobhogue(102 comments)posted 5 years ago

"If employees at Youngstown State University had not shown such unadulterated greed in gorging themselves on pay raises in the midst of a national economic recession that has hit the Mahoning Valley harder than most regions in the state, students would not have to bear the burden of a 3.5 percent tuition increase in the coming academic year." FALSE -- the 3.5 percent tuition increase was approved ONLY after the final version of the state budget was approved on or about July 13. That version reduced (on very short notice) the amount of the State's contribution to universities for their instructional costs.

"On Tuesday, the board of trustees, under the guidance and direction of President David Sweet and members of his Cabinet, approved raising the undergraduate yearly tuition of $6,721 by $235 starting this fall." FALSE -- the Trustees do not operate under the direction of the president and his cabinet. It is the other way around.

"Employees are also rewarded for earning advanced degrees — love for learning? Get real. More like love of earning." What is it with you? Do you so disdain higher education that you actually want people NOT to advance their own education while working within the realm of higher education?

"Then, a member of the faculty union hired before June 1, 2008, received a longevity increase of $50 for each year of service. Thus, a faculty member with 30 years received $1,500 — that also was added to the base salary." First, your date is wrong. It's June 1, 2005. Second, you omit the fact that this was the FIRST time in anyone's memory that any meaningful longevity increase was included in the collective bargaining agreement for faculty.

"By some calculations, the entire first-year package resulted in an 8 percent increase for veteran professors." By WHOSE calculations? How many specific cases, if any, fall into this category?

"Then they could have asked the other unions to reopen their contracts to negotiate concessions." Well, the University can ask whatever they want, and so can the unions. But a characteristic of the labor-management environment since 2005 is not one of anyone making unrealistic demands, but rather of a collaborative and cooperative process that recognizes the legitimate concerns and interests of both sides. Sneer at that if you want, but the 2005 round of negotiations with the faculty was the most honest, open, civil, and constructive round that I have seen in my 21 years at YSU.

When your columns are on target, they are wonderful. When they are off target, as this one is, they so far off the mark that they are almost parodies of themselves.

Suggest removal:

2YSUPenguin(30 comments)posted 5 years ago

Ha! Good old Bertram's girlfriend used to be in this union until she retired. I wonder if he would be saying the same if she was still employed by the university? And besides, it's about time people with professional degrees started to earn at least as much as the non-educated secretaries...that's not right for lazy high school graduates to be making as much or more than people who earned their degrees. Bertram can go fly a kite!

Suggest removal:

3Becky_Roberts(4 comments)posted 5 years ago

De Souza had this column written months ago. He trots them out anytime YSU signs a contract with one of its unions. The whole column is silly, but two things in particular made me laugh:

"Boatload" of holidays? We're not taking off for Arbor Day or Cinco de Mayo--you do realize that the ten holidays outlined in the new APAS contract are federal holidays? Also, I'd like to point out that YSU's Maag Library is open on Sundays during the regular semesters, and that Easter Sunday is not on the list of official holidays. This means that as a librarian, I'll probably be at my desk on Easter. I'm fine with that, but I wonder where Mr. de Souza will be? Can I call him greedy and lazy if he chooses to spend the day with his family?

"The trustees should have demanded concessions in the APAS contract. A wage freeze, or even a giveback, would have sent a strong message to the community at large and the campus population in particular."

And that message is: take your education and talent and go enrich Chicago, Seattle, or New York because the largest employer in Youngstown doesn't value them enough to pay a competitive salary.

Suggest removal:

4northsideperson(365 comments)posted 5 years ago

On the bright side, all of the YSU employees are paying into city income tax. Pay cuts, layoffs, or furloughs at YSU will mean income loss to Youngstown.

Suggest removal:


News
Opinion
Entertainment
Sports
Marketplace
Classifieds
Records
Discussions
Community
Help
Forms
Neighbors

HomeTerms of UsePrivacy StatementAdvertiseStaff DirectoryHelp
© 2014 Vindy.com. All rights reserved. A service of The Vindicator.
107 Vindicator Square. Youngstown, OH 44503

Phone Main: 330.747.1471 • Interactive Advertising: 330.740.2955 • Classified Advertising: 330.746.6565
Sponsored Links: Vindy Wheels | Vindy Jobs | Vindy Homes | Pittsburgh International Airport