Union charges YSU with interference

Letter of Agreement

By Harold Gwin

The university trustees hope ongoing differences can be resolved amicably.

YOUNGSTOWN — The Association of Classified Employees union says Youngstown State University is interfering in its internal operations, and it has asked the State Employment Relations Board to intervene.

The union, through the law firm of Green Haines Sgambati Co. LPA, filed an unfair labor practice charge as well as a request that SERB seek a temporary restraining order against the university in Mahoning County Common Pleas court.

The complaint claims the university is “interfering with, restraining and coercing members of the bargaining unit ... in exercise of rights guaranteed” by law by banning the union president from campus.

YSU is interfering with the union’s right to select its own representative for the purposes of collective bargaining or the adjustment of grievances, which is a violation of the law, the complaint said.

“We are aware of the unfair labor practice charge,” said YSU spokesman Ron Cole, declining further comment.

Scott Schulick, chairman of the YSU Board of Trustees, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the filing, given the state of affairs on campus now and the ongoing disputes with ACE over the past several months.

“The board still has every intent to resolve our differences in a very amicable manner,” he said.

The union claims the university’s actions “are part of an ongoing and concerted effort to discredit and neutralize the leadership of” the 380-member ACE group, a reference to the university placing ACE President Ivan Maldonado on paid administrative leave March 13 after a criminal complaint was filed against him by an ACE union member.

No charges have been filed, and university police said they are still investigating the harassment complaint from a 42-year-old female facilities department employee, who told them she believes Maldonado will cause her physical or emotional harm.

Her complaint stems from a telephone call from Maldonado regarding the circulation of a Nov. 28, 2007, letter of agreement signed by him and former YSU chief human resources officer Craig Bickley, according to information presented to the university’s board of trustees.

The union said that letter was only part of an arrangement worked out between the university and ACE regarding the employment of another ACE member, Christine Domhoff. former union president. But the letter was being widely circulated on campus without the corroborating memorandums of understanding signed by the university and the union that led to the issuance of the letter.

Two memorandums written the same day — one signed by Maldonado and Bickley, and the other by those two as well as Helen Trapp, Ohio Education Association labor relations consultant and Eugene P. Grilli, YSU vice president for finance and administration — set the groundwork for the letter of agreement regarding Domhoff’s proposed employment in the human resources office and/or reclassification from her administrative assistant 2 to an administrative assistant 4 ranking.

The memorandum signed by the four parties spells out that a letter of agreement would be entered into “in order to fully resolve any and all labor disputes, potential grievance(s) and/or litigation regarding the alleged improper placement” of another employee in an administrative assistant 4 position in the YSU police department.

Domhoff was qualified for and had applied for that job.

The letter of agreement contained a clause that said the document “shall be shredded and no copies retained by either party” once its terms were completed.

The terms were never completed, and Domhoff later filed a grievance over the issue, claiming that, although she was recommended by a search committee for the human resources job, the university didn’t move her into that position and failed to change her job classification to administrative assistant 4, a ranking she said Bickley told her she was entitled to based on the level of work she was already doing.

The issue remains unresolved.

Maldonado has been banned from campus during his administrative leave, and the union says his presence is needed to continue working on a number of grievance issues with the university.

The union says the university has suggested that ACE pick someone else to represent it in those hearings and has declined to move the hearings off campus so Maldonado can attend. The SERB filing contained copies of an e-mail exchange between the union and the university as proof of that claim.


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