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Public should be livid about YSU giveaways

Published: Tue, September 15, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

May we suggest that the 400 or so employees of Youngstown State University who will receive bonuses of $4,500 each — that’s right, bonuses — wear a sign around their necks that reads: “Our greed knows no bounds.”

Of course, we do not expect our suggestion to be given a second thought, because this is public sector we’re talking about where the word shame has no meaning.

But it is a shame that in the midst of a national economic recession and local economic implosion individuals with cushy jobs paid for by the taxpayers would receive a sizeable gift for doing nothing more than what anyone lucky enough to get a paycheck these days does: Put in eight hours — in the private sector more than eight — and give thanks to God.

Such is the state of the economy. Latest figures show that the nation will soon hit the 10 percent unemployment rate. That should be a wake up call — but obviously the alarm isn’t being sounded on the campus of Youngstown State University.

As each contract was being negotiated and then being reviewed by the board of trustees — the nine members are appointed by the governor to set university policy — we warned against granting pay increases to faculty, classified employees — they’re the one pocketing the bonuses — and the professional and administrative staff. It was our position then, and it is our position now that having a job that pays much more than the median income in the Mahoning Valley is reward enough.

But we were ignored by the administration and the trustees. The contracts looked like Christmas trees.

Tuition increase

And just for good measure, student tuition and fees were increased. In other words, the customers — students and parents who are struggling to make ends meet — were hit with higher costs to attend the urban institution of higher education.

The contract for the Association of Classified Employees that contained the bonus provision — there is a formula that kicks in as full-time student enrollment increases — received only one no vote in the nine-member board of trustees. Trustee Harry Meshel, a veteran politician who once served as the president of the Ohio Senate and is proud of the fact that he grew up in Youngstown among working-class families, strongly objected to what he called the “sugar coating” of the pact. He warned that the university was inviting public criticism by giving in to the unions.

So, what can be done? Nothing — until the contracts are up for renewal.

At that point, there will be a new president at YSU. Dr. David Sweet is leaving on July 1, 2010, and by then his successor will have been hired.

The trustees have a responsibility, first and foremost to the students and those parents helping them with their tuition and then to the taxpayers of the region, to let the new president know they will be fully behind him or her in taking a firm stand in labor negotiations.

Rather than pay raises, concessions must be sought from everyone, and all the Christmas tree ornaments must be removed. In other words, it’s time for YSU to join the real world of work.

Having a job is enough of an incentive for the employees on campus. Comparisons with other institutions — by the way, just about every college and university experienced an increase in enrollment because that’s what happens in a down economy — especially with regard to wages and benefits is nonsensical. YSU is an urban, open admissions institution that serves a five-county area with a large percentage of the residents without college degrees and a higher than average unemployment rate.

That is a reality the new president must quickly recognize and use to formulate a plan of action with regard to labor contracts.

The party is over.


1valleyred(1103 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Your hatred of Youngstown State is sickening.

YSU is one of the few BRIGHT spots in the Mahoning Valley, in addition to Humility of Mary Health Partners.

I am no fan of unions, but I am sick and tired of the Vindicator using their bully pulpit to rip on YSU each and every month.

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2Aptenodytes(8 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

The vindicator has no shame! This people of this valley come from a hard working tradition that has valued traditional union principles for generations. Your sleezeball rag, on the other hand, has never missed an oportunity to denigrate the working people of this valley. This includes your own employees that were on strike and the good people of YSU. It is obvious that your hatred of YSU employees is based on your own corporate greed that places a premium on your own personal profit to the exclusion of your employees.
You honestly think YSU employees get paid too much? Many people that work for ACE have advanced degrees that are put to use by the university, but aren't recognized when it comes to salaries. Additionally, many ACE members assist professors and graduate students in their research and publications. Ace members volunteer their time in recruiting efforts both on campus and off. The pride and effort of YSU employees, both union and non-union, goes well beyond their job descriptions and compensation.
As far as demanding concessions from YSU employees... think about this for a minute. All students that come to YSU for an education hope to graduate someday and get a decent job, maybe even in the mahoning valley. Do you think your mentality should carry over to their jobs as well? Should all workers in Youngstown agree to wage cuts so that their product is more affordable to the good people of the valley? Do the parents of YSU students want their children to get jobs whereby they forego raises and benefits?
Why doesn't the Vindicator lead by example? Why don't you (the infinately wise and generous editors of the Vindicator) show the citizens of Youngstown that you're willing to take major pay cuts so that the poor people of Youngstown can more easily afford your publication? You are indeed a private institution, but the hard working people of Youngstown are sick and tired of paying for the fancy suits and cars of over-paid blowhards that do nothing more than spew vitriol on the pages of their glorified rag. Put your money where your mouth is.

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3CandyfromCanfield(172 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

ACE workers have advanced degrees? Really? So the janitors, the delivery guy, the payroll people, staff secretaries...I can go on...have advanced degrees? And ACE folks really think they are underpaid? May I remind you about the salary study that was done several years ago that clearly showed YSU ACE secretaries and others make more than other employees in similar positions in Youngstown? ACE made sure that study never saw the light of day! How can anyone justify a secretary or payroll clerk who makes between $40,000 and $60,000 a year? Personally, I have no problem with a small bonus for those who actually worked in recruiting those extra students to campus...the staff in registration, financial aid, recruitment/admissions, advisors, etc. (But many of those positions aren't even in ACE, are they?) But $4,500 is obscene. WHY doesn't ACE lead by example...each ACE employee should give at least 10% of their bonus to any of the very worthy scholarship programs on campus. That would at least give somewhat of a silver lining to this horrible blunder.

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4Viewpoint(89 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Do the children of YSU employees still get FREE tuition?

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5northsideperson(366 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

The enrollment incentive was excessive.

But the Vindicator's call now for future concessions sounds like "put them in their place" - an attitude I've seen towards all government employees, either by Vindicator staff or readers.

Even as it wasn't possible to predict today's economy when the contract was negotiated, it's impossible to now predict what the economy will be at negotiation time.

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6Aptenodytes(8 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

If you think many Ace members don't have advanced degrees, you are just plain ignorant. If you also think that ACE members are only janitors, delivery guys, etc, you are publicly displaying your ignorance for all to see.

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7CandyfromCanfield(172 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

So then, what advanced degree does a secretary...oooppss...an administrative assistant need? Political Science? What advanced degree does a janitor need? Engineering? Many ACE members do in fact have degrees, but just as many don't. And many that do, don't really use their degrees in their positions. Please don't bamboozle the general public to think likewise. And how does the University justify a $60,000 salary WITH great benefits to a payroll clerk? Or a department secretary...oooppsss...an administrative assistant? You think I'm ignorant? The system is broken and will be fixed in two years when ACE's contract expires. You can take that to the bank Aptenodytes!

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8Viewpoint(89 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Your screen name "Aptenodytes" is certainly in keeping with your vigorous defense of the ACE position.( King or Emperor Penquin for those who do not know.) Tell me, do your children receive a free education at YSU, unlike those of the taxpayers or the tuition paying students?

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9CandyfromCanfield(172 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

ACE members...both full AND part-time...receive a full benefits package from YSU, including medical, dental, vision, life insurance, and other bennies...unlimited tuition remission being one of them. Tuition remission is for the member, the spouse or domestic partner, plus any "legal" children.

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10borylie(953 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

YSU,local,state and federal governments are guaranteed good pay,good benefits and basically guaranteed a raise every couple of years. When your source of income is the taxpayer,who cares? Raise taxes or print more money,paying these people is not a problem. And don't worry about your employer locating in some other country to try and stay competitive or stay in business. Good chance your health benefits will be better than the private sector in a short time.

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11Viewpoint(89 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Wrong assumption on your part cribk1052. Not everyone has the desire to walk around with an inflated sense of self worth or believes in the YSU money tree fairy. Public employees always tend to forget who their true employer is, and as a result begin to treat persons, who shed light on a distasteful display of greed, with disdain. So tell the rest of us, how long have you worked at YSU?

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12borylie(953 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

cribk, I'm jealous. I'd love a job with all that I mentioned above,plus job security and my butt is covered no matter how badly I perform. Don't forget that their hard earned money was once my hard earned money.

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13Viewpoint(89 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Well, once again you are trying to put words in my mouth that are unpalatable. I never said that they were not worth their pay. I have indeed stated that in my opinion they are overpaid for the work that they do. As far as not knowing what they do, well I have spent several hundreds of hours on campus, and I have seen what they do. Most of them do not do a days work in two, and would be quickly dismissed from employment in the private sector. And another thing, didn't your mommy teach you it was impolite to call people names? I'll assume you were just in an emotional snit, so I'll forgive you.

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14CandyfromCanfield(172 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

How do you think I know so much about what goes on at YSU? You would be surprised, my friend! Some ACE employees work very hard, I'll grant you that. But please spare me about how wonderful ACE is. ACE is a dying union...half of your members would vote in a heartbeat to break away from the bullying tactics of past leadership. Half of your executive committee resigned this past spring because of those tactics. Your new leadership will be beaten into submission in two years when the administration hires the finest union busting attorneys to pick apart your contract. And when you go on strike in 2011, at least half of your union will cross the picket line. I have no problem with hardworking people who go to work every day and do their jobs. I don't like it when people scam the system, and act like crybabies when their supervisors ask them to do an honest day's work. I don't like it when employees are asked to do one or two extra tasks and the first words out of their mouths are "That's not in my job description." Good lord, I could go on and on....The bottom line is that the vast majority of these ACE folks did not EARN that enrollment incentive. They got it off the backs of others who did. And if they had any common decency, they would be ashamed of accepting that money. And please, PLEASE don't give me any crap about you doing our economy a favor by spending your money here. Find yourself a deserving, needy YSU student and buy their books next semester.

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15NoBS(2841 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

borylie writes: "I'm jealous. I'd love a job with all that I mentioned above,plus job security and my butt is covered no matter how badly I perform. Don't forget that their hard earned money was once my hard earned money."

At least you admit you're jealous - I see a lot of whining being done here by people who won't admit it, but who most assuredly are.

I wanted to address your comment about "their" hard-earned money having once been "your" hard-earned money. Tell me, what percentage of the entire YSU budget, including payroll, do you supply? What percentage of your tax dollars goes to YSU's budget? Is it a larger percentage than that which goes to support the local boondoggles (you know what they are)? Then why aren't you as upset about being forced to fund those things?

You say you'd love to have a job that has job security? Why don't you have one? Have you ever applied? (and don't even start with the 'you have to know someone' nonsense.)

You say you'd love to have a job where you're safe no matter how poorly you perform? First, please show evidence of this because it IS possible to fire Civil Service employees, but it's not easy to do so BECAUSE if it were, every new administrator would fire a bunch of innocent employees to make room for his friends and relatives, and second, the only job where that is true is being a weather forecaster.

No, I don't work for YSU, before you claim I do.

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16borylie(953 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

NoBs, you moron. .00005% of my money goes to the YSU budget. .00006% goes to other boondoggles and who says I'm not upset? What a stupid question. My job security by the way is owning my own business with over 40 employees and having to remain competitive with other businesses and keeping my 40 nonunion workers employed. They receive health care and retirement options. They earn every penny I pay them or they wouldn't be there. This business was started in 1987. Would you like what percentages my capital gain taxes pay? So my job security comes with my saving for my initial investment,my vision on opening this venture and my dedication along with my loyal employees to keep this business open and profitable. What percentage of your brain was never developed?

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17NoBS(2841 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

borylie, why the name-calling? Why the attitude? Gosh, you must be a real peach to work for, if this is how you react to calm, objective questions. I did not berate you or make references to your intelligence (you've done that yourself in this last post), yet you spout trash because I dared see things from a viewpoint that doesn't line up 100% with yours. You ignore the point I made - in fact, you ignore 99% of my post. Is that how you run your business? No wonder you're insecure.

YOU chose to start your own business, yet you whine like a little girl about wishing you had job security. Shut your business down, then, and go get yourself a job where you have it. Or, STFU and deal with life. Not everybody is cut out to own their own business, and beyond that SOMEBODY has to do the work in those "safe, secure jobs." You begrudge them what benefits they have because you don't have them. How typical of this valley, where the mantra is "If I don't have it, nobody else deserves it either!" What a shallow, petty way to go through life.

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18borylie(953 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Why the name calling? Because like most conservatives I used to take the high road,but I decided I like the Saul Alinsky/liberal approach and get down in the gutter with the likes of you, Your posts make no sense. Who's whining simpleton,I have a great life. And what benefits don't I have that I begrudge? Do you ever read what you print?

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19JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

"Because like most conservatives I used to take the high road"

Line of the day.

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20borylie(953 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Jeff, Who put you in charge of line of the day competition? Go watch MSNBC and stay uninformed.

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21northsideperson(366 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

This will most likely deteriorate into an unplanned invocation of Godwin's Law.

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22CandyfromCanfield(172 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

I don't think this is a political discussion. And the more I consider the "facts", President Sweet and the Board of Trustees share a huge part of the blame for signing off on this deal 16 months ago. That being said, I hear from very, very high sources that high powered attorneys are looking into the legality of this contract, doing a "Where's Waldo" to find the loopholes and keep from paying those obscene bonuses. ACE members shouldn't count their chickens or cash those bonus checks just yet!!!

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23northsideperson(366 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago


I understand there are questions about some sections of the contract, regarding a few staff whose job classifications and pay ranges did not match the state standards.

Most contracts of this sort have "separability", where the invalidation of one section does not void the entire contract.

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24CandyfromCanfield(172 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

I'll go back to my original comments. 1. The amount of the bonus is obscene in light of the current economy, especially with students being hit with a tuition increase. 2. The vast majority of ACE employees do not work in any kind of capacity to affect enrollment, ergo, they did not EARN this bonus in any way, shape, or form. 3. ACE employees have it within their power to be decent about this windfall and give back to the YSU community, either by donating money to the YSU development fund, a scholarship fund, the United Way, etc., but I seriously doubt that will happen. Pigs would fly, crlbk1052 would post a well-reasoned, intelligent rebuttal, etc. You get the picture. Not sure how you can defend any of this, but if it feels better for you to call me names, go for it. Sane people, and everyone at the University, realize this situation is a disaster. No one ever anticipated the economy to tank the way it did, and no one anticipated enrollment to increase by such a large number. Could you at least agree that ACE members make a positive gesture to the University and return part of their unearned bonus back to the Development fund? Or are you (in your own words!) too "warped, shallow, and small-minded" for that?

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25jrbully(16 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago


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26vallybraindrain(1 comment)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

When did $4,500 become such an absurd amount of money? That's essentially as if people were getting paid an additional $173 per paycheck if they're paid 26 times per year like most jobs... That doesn't seem like that much to me.

Looking at if it was 400 people getting that $4,500, that's $1.8 million. The university, according to ysu.edu and its fast facts section, has a budget of $140.8 million and an endowment of $170 million... They've got plenty of money and are not going to go broke by paying these bonuses.

Let's think about the Vindicator's argument here for a second...

YSU employees who receive a $4,500 bonus should wear a sign that says "Our Greed Knows no Bounds" just because they're public service employees...

People in the area making hundreds of thousands of dollars working in the private sector who are members of Youngstown or Tippecanoe Country Clubs should not wear signs, even though they're making MUCH higher bonuses and spending it on themselves...

The Youngstown area is sad, depressed, and when the newspaper writes stories like this slamming hard working people in the area for getting a bonus in a difficult economic time, it's no wonder people like me who grew up in the valley left for greener pastures...

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27ytown9999(55 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Some idiot said: "Looking at if it was 400 people getting that $4,500, that's $1.8 million. The university, according to ysu.edu and its fast facts section, has a budget of $140.8 million and an endowment of $170 million... They've got plenty of money and are not going to go broke by paying these bonuses."

If YSU is so well to do, why the tuition hike? You're trying to act like one has nothing to do with the other.

I'd like to see how many of you people supporting YSU here would be so supportive if the public sector employees getting $4,500 bonuses were police or fire while the municipality was raising taxes...

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28apollo(1227 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Very well said sotired. It's nothing more than a money grab by greedy unions that asked for and received a perk that nobody outside the public sector would get. Ridiculous to say the least.

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291Marine(29 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Makes me sick! Shame on our public colleges and especially YSU - Money, money, moneeeeeee.

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30nlpavalko(12 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Well, here's the thing folks, I am an actual YSU student. I might be wrong, but is seems as though the majority of the posts here are from non-students.

My POV? I don't really care. Most students don't really care. YSU hiked tuition once every semester for five years, and there wasn't any outrage then from students or the public.

Are the bonuses a great way to get students to attend YSU? Yes. Are they maybe not the best idea in this bad economy? Probably.

Also, lots of you have noted that YSU is greedy, all about the money, etc. While this is true it is also true that YSU is a for-profit business. It's not a public school that is entirely funded by the state like a public elementary school. Why do you think we have a President and Board of Directors taht get paid annual salaries.

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