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Will YSU faculty take strike vote?

Published: Sun, August 7, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

As ridiculous as it may seem, there are rumblings that the faculty union at Youngstown State University will reject a fact-finder’s report pertaining to a new contract and urge members to vote to strike.

The report is supposed to be released this week. and while the details are unknown, it appears faculty members are anticipating findings that would require them to make concessions. Despite YSU’s low standing among the Ohio’s 12 public universities and colleges, professors have considered themselves a preferred class.

They have been unwilling to acknowledge that significant cuts in spending are necessary in order to address the budgetary shortfall at YSU caused by a decrease in state funding.

Although the university trustees increased tuition for the coming semester by 3.5 percent, the administration of President Cynthia Anderson is still expecting a budget deficit in fiscal 2011-12.

Dr. Anderson, who was vice president of student affairs before she became president and always worked well with all the employee groups on campus, made it clear from the outset that pay raises were a non-starter in this round of labor talks.

Health-care premiums

Indeed, the administration wants employees to pay a higher percentage of the health-care premiums and also agree to changes in some of the work rules.

It would be an understatement to say that the demands have gone over like a lead balloon. The reports from campus suggest the faculty may be willing to temper its demands for raises, but isn’t willing to give up on work practices that have given members a financial windfall.

As was noted in this space last month, summer school has been a boondoggle for professors who get paid a percentage of their annual salaries, as opposed to a flat rate, which is what limited service instructors receive.

The administration also wants to change the extended teaching program, which now guarantees a certain number of hours for professors who retire. YSU cannot afford to keep paying for such luxuries.

But while there is concern in Tod Hall about a possible strike vote, Anderson and the trustees have an ally that could temper the willingness of the faculty to go for broke.

Senate Bill 5, designed by Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican controlled General Assembly to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights, will be on the November general election ballot for a referendum vote.

Republicans in the Legislature approved SB 5 and Gov. Kasich signed it into law. It will take effect if Ohioans vote to keep it on the books.

However, the opponents of the collective bargaining reform law, led by We Are Ohio, got a major boost when a special committee reviewing the referendum language determined that a “No” vote would repeal SB 5 — it will be State Issue 2 on the ballot.

Long-time observers of Ohio politics, including Dr. William Binning, former chairman of YSU’s political science department, former chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party and a member of the late Gov. James A. Rhodes’ inner circle, believe that regardless of how an issue is worded, the side that has “No” has a clear advantage.

Thus, opponents of SB 5 hit the streets this weekend conducting a door-to-door voter education campaign. They will be providing Ohioans with the details of Issue 2 and will explain why a “No” vote is essential.

Millions of dollars

Given that the backers of SB 5, led by Building a Better Ohio, intend to spend $20 million to make sure that the GOP’s collective bargaining reform law is confirmed by the voters, We Are Ohio and the national labor unions that are putting up millions of dollars to kill the law will not take kindly to a distraction, such as a YSU faculty strike vote.

Not only would it be a public relations nightmare, but voters in the blue-collar Mahoning Valley who would otherwise have been against SB 5 will feel betrayed by the greed and myopia of the YSU community.

The backlash could determine voter turnout in the Valley on Nov. 8.

In the overall scheme of things, preserving the collective bargaining rights of public employees in Ohio is a lot more important than fattening the wallets of pampered faculty on the campus of YSU. That’s the message the union will hear.


1AtownAugie(884 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Bert has *this* one correct, partly. YSU profs need to not "cut off their nose to spite their face" by refusing, for example, to pay their fair share of health insurance. But Bert has it wrong with YSU profs in suggesting not calling for a strike will somehow help the anti-SB5 crowd. The national-union-backed group pushing against SB5 -- "We Are Ohio" -- will learn what their national-union-backed sister group "We Are Wisconsin" learned: "WE THE PEOPLE" have grown weary of their childish tantrums.

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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

To strike or not to strike . Now that is a high magnitude choice .

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3Photoman(1246 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Aw, c'mon, strike. Let the profs show us their true colors. Did anyone really think that their primary concern is the education of our young people? It seems to me that greed, institutional politics and snobbery will be highly evident in a strike situation.

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4howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Why should college faculty pay more, when millionaires and billionaires refuse to pay more? Why should any union worker pay more, when Corporations like Chevron, GE, Exxon-Mobile, and Goldman Sachs pay nothing at all or a mere pittance while raking in tens of Billions in profits?

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5valleyred(1103 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

I will be pretty upset with my professors if they choose to go on strike... The economy is heading back into another recession. The last thing they should be receiving is pay hikes when our tuition continues to rise... Makes no sense.

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6NoBS(2763 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Here's a thought - why don't we wait and see what the Fact Finding report says, and wait further and see what the YSU Faculty union does with it?

Naaah - waiting would mean deSouza wouldn't have a subject for his weekly drivel, and the union-envy crowd wouldn't get to spout their negativity. Hey - let's make up some more anti-union "stories." It's all good.

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7Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Bertram de Souza lies once again. The rumblings I've been hearing, Bert, is that the fact finder has found the Anderson Administration to have lied on multiple accounts, and that the administration has no response to being caught in these lies, and that the faculty will embrace the fact finding report, and it will be the admin that rejects it.

So, Bert, are you just trying to drum up some public discontent to create support for your ideologically occluded vision of things? Talk about fact finding. Maybe you should embrace facts, too, even though this is an opinion column. Maybe the Vindicator should be interested in the truth, even among its loudmouth columnists that say whatever they want, regardless of what the facts say.

I'll be interested to see how this plays out. The YSU administrations have always been the ones caught up in lies in the past, not the faculty or staff, which people like De Souza like to cast as witches with contracts signed by the devil. I see no reason for this to not prove out to be the same: the administration will have been looking for ways to make more money at the expense of their faculty and staff's livelihoods, thus lowering the university's ranking in the state that is already so low. It's a snake eating its tail. What quality professor would want to work at such an institute that doesn't value its own reputation, but sinks to the lowest common denominator at every chance it gets?

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8VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

There are times when you have had enough. You just can't take it anymore. No one cares about you, the hard work you put in and they show no respect for your effort. You are not alone.

Welcome to American Economy 2011. A class that teaches how to survive an economic down turn. Your only power left is the power to vote Yes or No for a strike. This is a very powerful last card in your deck and one that could affect your income for weeks, months, or years to follow.

The economy is not responding. Millions of people are out of work. You are highly educated. Can you find new work this late in the season? Will you be punished for voting for a strike? Or will you be punished for voting No?

If you strike and end up winning, will they have a lay-off? How will your students react to your vote? Many questions to ponder...do you feel lucky?

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9northsideperson(366 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

If the YSU faculty (or other public employee unions) strike, it will kill a lot of the anti-SB5 support.

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10rudyf(1 comment)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Your article makes it seem like the faculty are greedy. How about putting a couple of facts in the article instead of just taking the word of the administration on the question of finances. The last available audited financial statements show that between 2009-10 instructional costs increased only by $0.4 million 0.05% while institutional support (administration) spending went up by $3 million or 12.8%. How about the fact that unrestricted net assets increased from $26.2 million to 34.1 million between 2008 and 2011. What about the fact that between 2006 and 2010 enrollment increased by 12.6%. Since the University is barely increasing instructional spending what are they doing with all of the additional revenue from the enrollment increases?

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11franc004(71 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Facts? Naw, that would require thoughtful research. Much easier to parrot whichever line supports the columnist's preconceived notions and biases. Also, notice how the university will not release the enrollment numbers for Fall, even though registration officially closed Aug. 1? Also, before labeling YSU faculty as "pampered" a thoughtful columnist might actually examine the workload policies at YSU with those of other institutions, and pay and benefits alongside like institutions in the higher ed sector, not the geographic location, which is how such analyses are done by thoughtful journalists--even columnists.

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12dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

The "YSU Family" as Anderson calls it will weather this storm, but you sure are not going to see her give up her big bucks. YSUretired sure hit the nail on the head commenting how Bert would fit in. A report within the fact finder report states that the financial picture of the institution is STRONG & IMPROVING, how will they spin this one? I wonder who is staying up nights trying to figure out how to get out of the muck & mire they wallow in. Stop blaming the unions and work to fight unfair, unhuman acts that are being committed

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13dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Absolutely! Let's tax the rich, why should they continue to get a break when the little people are sinking and the burdens are all on the working poor.

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14Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

We only have one vote each on SB5 and mine will be NO

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15pol26(26 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Bertrum, I can't believe you would base your column on "rumblings".....rumors basically. But since you like to do that, base next weeks column on the reorganization the administration has planned for a certain division. Two people leave and they plan on hiring about 10 people to replace them. Some have even started receiving their new salaries before their new positions have been announced. These unions take all the heat, while administrators have their hands in the cookie jar, right at this moment. Bother to look a bit deeper, Bertrum, and give us a column worth reading....instead of your usual rantings about the unions.

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16AtownAugie(884 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

From Wednesday morning's Wisconsin State Journal: "After tens of millions of dollars spent by outside interest groups, dozens of attack ads and exhaustive get-out-the-vote efforts, Democrats on Tuesday fell short of their goal of taking control of the state Senate and stopping the agenda of Gov. Scott Walker." Nice try "We Are Wisconsin." And SB5 repeal? Bring it on "We Are Ohio" -- "We The People" have wearied of your childish tantrums. (Full article: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/loca...)

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17dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Jessiedavid seems to overlook that public employees pay taxes too. Super pensions? Get real! Those pensions are NOT super and the employees have been paying for them. Would you want just anyone off the street, untrained, to come out on a firetruck when YOUR house is on fire? You want a qualified person to help you, not a minimum wage person that doesn't give a darn about their profession/job. Public employees ARE dedicated people that DO PAY their fair share of taxes and contributions to their PRIVATE pension. Just like you probably have a 401K or something like that, the public employees contributions are PRIVATE, it's not costing you EXTRA. Let's be fair, this is all BS for employees of the state to be portrayed this way. You are jealous, so why don't YOU go get a job with the state, then let's see how YOU feel being attacked unfairly . The pension is NOT so GREAT. Let's face it, you get what you pay for so if you want the future of OHIO to be bleak then don't support the teachers, policemen, firefighters, etc. and see what you will get. People seem to forget that the nation's best natural resources are in the hands of the so called 'overpaid teachers', and you want to strip them of their rights to train/teach future leaders, workers? Let's get off the platform that unions are bad and all public employees are lazy, overpaid scum. Walk in their shoes for a day!

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18Anonymouse(36 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Racing to the bottom leaves everyone poorer. Do we really want to take money away from people just because others have been the victim of irresponsible leadership and unfair labor policies?

"My grampa says everyone should settle for less than they deserve."

Wake up. Quit being petty. Instead of dragging others down, point to them as an exemplar and demand more. Otherwise you'll f*ck over your children and grandchildren.

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19franc004(71 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Thank you Anonymouse! Couldn't have said it better myself. I am so tired of the, well, tired media narrative that says "times are tough, everyone has to sacrifice" when corporate profits and worker productivity are both at record levels.

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20AtownAugie(884 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

@YSUretired: How's the fact finder's recommendations workin' for ya? They mirror SB5 fairly well. http://www.wkbn.com/media/lib/129/a/3...

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21franc004(71 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Augie, Seems to me the fact finder report shows that YSU administration has been lying to the media by saying there was a $9.1 million deficit, which turns out to be just over $1.5 million BEFORE counting the increased enrollment numbers that the university will not release, despite that fact that normally at this time of year they are touting these numbers. So, basically they began the good faith bargaining process with a big lie.

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22AtownAugie(884 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

@franc004: Seems you are quite disappointed that the fact finder made his FIRST "Findings of Fact" to be that both parties "engaged in good faith bargaining...." From that you say "Seems to me the fact finder report shows that YSU administration has been lying" and "So, basically they began the good faith bargaining process with a big lie"? Even though you create out of whole cloth and attempt to twist what the fact finder did NOT write, I do hope you didn't sprain an ankle from that giant leap of illogic.

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23franc004(71 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Ha! Love it. But I don't think it is illogical to point out that previously in this very column Mr. DeSouza reported the Administration claim of a $9.1 million shortfall, which turns out to be some $ 8 million less, so yes, I'd say the first premise of the negotiation was in fact a lie. Maybe this is called "good faith" bargaining and I'm naive, but a lie is a lie.

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24AtownAugie(884 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

@franc004: Touche'! Although I do not agree with your contention that "the first premise of the negotiation was in fact a lie" I respect your right to your position, and appreciate your tenor. In a firm but gentle manner, you voiced your specific disagreement with another here. Alas, such civility is a rarity -- but heartening! Best wishes to you and yours.

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25franc004(71 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Back at ya Augie!

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26RustOnMyBelt(172 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

What is the point if they strike? They would not be making some sort of grand sacrifice to prove their point. They just want to stop the university from being able to function since they did get full pay for the last time they walked the picket line. The other unions did not get paid for the time they walked out once they returned to work.

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27observer21(17 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Come back after you earn a Ph.D. rusty and tell us how much of a pay cut you think faculty should take.

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28repeaters(314 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

It's the students who should be going on strike. No students....no class. No class....no instructor paychecks. No instructor paychecks....they'll run to the barginning table!!! The power is with the students; they are the customers; they control the money.

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29RustOnMyBelt(172 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for your cooperation Observant One...and so we class that while it did take some time, yet another self-important PhD with a Doctorate in arrogance has risen to the surface! Dismissed.

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30observer21(17 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

So Rusty, I take it you refuse to acknowledge that no days were lost in the last strike, and it appears you refuse to acknowledge that the faculty accepted the fact finders report. It is the administration that has accepted huge raises, and it is the administration that has rejected a very fair agreement.

It seems that anyone who makes more money than you is the enemy and does not deserve what they have worked for.

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31computer_rick(137 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

I believe that the average base wage should be determined by taking the average pay and perks package of Colgate, Harvard, and NYU, and applying it across the board to all colleges everywhere.

Let's face it, we are lucky to have any faculty at all at YSU. How they can afford to live in our high cost of living area, when their brothers and sisters in Cambridge, New York, heck practically any Ivy League school, earn on average 20k more per year is beyond me.

Additionally, the students should be forced to pay through the nose for their education. Like my Grandfather always said, price equates directly to quality. So, a more expensive college education would vault a graduating seniors educational experience head and shoulders above a less expensive degree, such as, a "Community College". In all honesty I believe that, I wish I had paid more for my own education. I would have appreciated it more, and spent less time drinking.

Another by-product of a low cost education. Teen alchoholism. A student with money left over, is just looking for trouble. Colleges need to vacuum every last dime out of that student, and his family's, pocket. This also would add an element of Darwinian self selection to the process of degree seeking individuals. Does that potential student really want or need that college degree? Or are they just putting off the inevitable job at WalMart? Looking at the issue through the cold hard prism of reality, that student who is really not actually "worthy" of college, will self select the option of lowest cost. Leaving valuable classroom space open to the more deserving students. Also, poor familys would no longer have to scrimp and save to get their child through four years of schooling. Seriously, if the poor student had the genetic make up to truly excel at college, that would have already been proven by their family being rich, or if not rich, at least well off enough to not have to bother the rest of us where their incessant whining about the high cost of tuition.

I believe that the faculty at YSU has the opportunity to make the bold statement, not about how much they earn. No, their goals are lofty, and altruistic. Does everyone really need or deserve a college degree? They couch this behind a facade of perceived greed. But do super heroes ever actually show their true benevolence to society at large? No, they act as ordinary people with ordinary wants, such as a desire for more money. In reality, the faculty will choose to strike, for the good of future generations. The ease with which a graduating senior of average intelligence can attend college has been to easy for too long.

It is precisely because of these tough economic times that these types of bold initiatives are required. And I applaud the faculty of YSU for their courage.

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32franc004(71 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Welcome to the Brave New World YSUretired, Teachers are the enemy, corporations are the victims, and we have successfully pitted the working classes against one another. The dominant discourse has become "you shouldn't have what I don't have," then we rail against socialism. We dress up like Jefferson to attend patriot rallies, never taking into account that the fathers were profoundly intellectual, and would be, according to today's discourse, "elites".

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33computer_rick(137 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm hungry.

Does Perkin's still have those strawberry roll-ups? You know, Those crepes rolled up around strawberry filling and topped with whipped cream? Those were great!

Just like a contract. Strawberry filled deliciousness wrapped up in a lightly browned crepe, and topped with creamy goodness.

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34Chief_Justice_Spartacus(26 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago


This is ACT II from the 2008 negotiations debacle. It’s not about the STUDENTS, it should be, but yet it isn’t. In 2008 it was about YSU’s Centennial. Negotiations had to be completed on time at any/all cost. Remember that huge amounts of money were flowing in from Alumni and the Valley’s affluent. Fast forward to 2011 and now you have payback for the 2008 negotiations at any/all cost especially to the STUDENTS. The Sweet Administration deceived the BOT with the help of Dr. Cyndy Anderson, Dr. Ikram Khawajwa and Mr. Eugene Grilli, just review the email from July 2008 that’s been floating around campus the last three years which evidenced their involvement in the cover-up. Board Chairman Scott Schulick felt personally embarrassed as well as the entire BOT. Now it’s Dr. Anderson, Dr. Khawaja, Mr. Grilli and the BOT’s time to get revenge. Yes, yes, conveniently Mr. Schulick steps down as the Chairman, what timing!

In Executive Session, the Fact Finder’s Report was rejected on the advice of Mr. Martin Bramlett and Mr. Kevin Reynolds from Human Resources and Attorney George Crisci. Interesting that these three individuals are affiliated with Union busting law firms. Once again the BOT and especially the PUBLIC is being fed bad information concerning the financial health of the University. I wonder why the University administration won’t release the enrollment numbers. With the 3.5% increase in tuition (students must pay more monetarily) combined with another record increase in student enrollment which increases Ohio state subsidies, the University administration will once again bestow themselves with equity based pay increases to offset any increase in healthcare cost. They will then declare they have sacrificed too. What BULL! Let’s not forget the YSU Foundation with its 150 million dollars that support the University. Why wouldn’t the YSU Foundation absorb the 3.5% tuition increase for a year and give the STUDENTS a break. Really Reid, you can’t swing this offer to students one time?

When the dust finally settles, I see Bramlett and Reynolds being sacrificed just as Habat and Chatman were for the 2005 strike. Can anyone remember the Labor Panel and its Report to the Board of Trustees? Attorney Crisci will go quietly away counting his stack of money as did Attorney Wilkins in 2005…continuing to practice their craft with their next victim.

Who suffers most…the STUDENTS, ALUMNI, the MAHONING VALLEY and its CITIZENS. Will YSU ever have a competent leader on its BOT like Dr. Perry, and a University President like Dr. Neil Humphey?.


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