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At YSU, it’s all about parking

Published: Sun, August 21, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Two weeks ago, this writer speculated that the faculty union at Youngstown State University would reject a fact-finder’s report and vote to strike.

On Monday, the YSU chapter of the Ohio Education Association issued a 10-day strike notice — after it agreed to accept the fact-finder’s report and recommended language for a new three-year contract.

Why, then, the threat to hit the bricks? Because the board of trustees rejected the report on the grounds that the fiscally challenged university cannot afford the pay raises and other gifts bestowed by Howard D. Silver of Columbus upon the faculty members, who feel so put upon by the university.

The impasse has resulted in the two sides returning to the bargaining table — with the active participation of a federal mediator.

Winning hearts and minds

The clock is ticking — and there’s a news blackout on what’s taking place behind closed doors. But from the day the faculty voted to accept the fact-finder’s report, union leaders have tried to win the hearts and minds of the public by using the “reasonable (them) vs. unreasonable (the university)” argument.

“The YSU-OEA sought from the beginning of negotiations to assist the University during these economically-challenging times. Our initial proposal was concessionary and more than ade- quate to allow YSU to meet all of its challenges and obligations,” said Dr. Stanley Guzell, chief negotiator and professor of management, in a statement on Aug. 12. “We were immediately rebuffed and confronted with artificially exaggerated expenses and unrealistically understate revenues.”

For their part, the trustees made it clear that their responsibility is to the entire university community.

“These are unprecedented and uncertain economic times,” said Dr. Sudershan Garg, chairman of the board, in his statement. “It is our responsibility to ensure the fiscal health of the institution today and into the future. The recommendations included in this [fact finder’s] report do not allow us to fulfill that responsibility.”

Given the history of labor negotiations at YSU, and the fact that the just expired three-year faculty contract amounted to daylight robbery, why would YSU-OEA be so willing to accept anything less than the gold standard?

Here’s a one-word answer that reflects the mentality of the folks on the hill: Parking.

Yes, parking.

This what Silver had to say about the issue:

“The Employer now seeks a recommendation from the fact finder that parking that is otherwise provided free of charge to bargaining members by the University … be deleted from the parties’ successor Agreement as it is a benefit the University can no longer afford to provide

“The hearing record reflects that the University provides about $531,000 in free parking annually, of which about $212,000 in free parking is ascribable to faculty bargaining unit members. Summer school faculty also avail themselves of free parking provided by the Employer.”

So, if faculty, administrators and staff don’t pay for parking, who does?

The students, naturally. Yes, those same lambs-to-the-slaughter who will be paying a tuition increase of 3.5 percent for the coming semester, will pay $100 for the privilege of parking around the campus. They will also pay $100 for the spring semester, and will shell out $51 if they attend summer session.

According to the University Guidebook, “Costs for the provision, construction, and maintenance of parking facilities and related transportation services are funded by income from sources such as fees, parking permits, parking meters, daily and special events parking, fines imposed for violation of parking regulations, and debt secured by bonds.”

Social structure

As far as the faculty is concerned, free parking is a right — similar to taking off from teaching for a year under the guise of doing major research. It defines the social structure on campus: I am a professor, you are a peon.

Incidentally, the $100 parking fee this semester is $22 more than what students paid last year. They are also paying more in activity fees. But before you feel sorry for them — so what if students have to work three jobs just to attend YSU? — consider the fact finder’s contention that the faculty is making sacrifices.

That’s why the YSU-OEA union embraced his report.


1southpaw(8 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

I would love to know what Bertram thinks the faculty should do. He villainizes them for accepting the factfinder's report by referring to it as "gifts bestowed by Howard D. Silver of Columbus." As if somehow Mr. Silver's report was written on behalf of the union. Evidently, the faculty are wrong no matter what they do. Maybe if they agree to work for minimum wage with no benefits Bertram will be satisfied. I find it interesting that a "journalist" with virtually no talent would rant about what others are being paid. I'm sure I'm not alone in my opinion that if Bertram is making more than minimum wage for the garbage he spews weekly on this worthless column, he is overpaid.

Keep up the good work Bertram. Maybe next week you can write about how lazy the rest of the government workers are again. We haven't read that column in a few weeks.

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2observer21(17 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

At first, I thought Bertram just hated YSU and particularly the faculty, now I just question his sanity. Two weeks ago he said the union would reject the fact finders report, and Now he thinks it’s all about parking. It is time for the Vindy and the public to launch an investigation into Bertram’s salary. I mean really, some students buy the Vindicator, but he does not care. He does not care how hard students work. Has his salary gone up in the last 3 years? Will it go up in the next 3 years?

Bertram has to understand that we live in tough times, and that students should be able to come to whatever rock he lives under and get the Vindy for free. I am sure that there is NO other paper any where around here that is begging for his services, so as a result, he should be happy just to have a job. He should give back at least 15% of his salary for those who struggle to buy the paper. Please Vindy, look into this issue.

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3ytown1234(11 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Everyone knows its not about parking. The point Bertram makes is that the faculty aren't willing to give up anything. Union leaders are filling the public with misinformation while the adminsitration continues to point out that they are in the middle of negotiations and commenting about the process or details to the public is inappropriate. Faculty are trying to brainwash everyone including students that any give ups by them will hurt the students. Bertram is right, students have been shouldering the burden of faculty perks for years. The reason why they are upset is that they have to give something back. Parking may not be the critical issue but is is part of the whole situation. No one seems to be looking elsewhere for a job...oh yea...that tenure thing...lifetime job security...makes you able to complain about your employer in public and then go back to work and collect a paycheck!

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4franc004(71 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, I don't think anyone really believes it's about parking, and ytown1234, Dr. Anderson is lucky to have such a loyal employee. But yes tenure does allow one to complain about an employer and a BOT that is comprised of political appointees--that's kind of what it was designed to do--to allow faculty to question systems, politics, etc., without reprisal because such questioning is the basis of education and critical thinking. I actually also agree with you that the point about Dr. Anderson's raise isn't the question, because, as you say, she has established a scholarship fund, which is very cool. I think the administration raises are only relevant as a point of contention that if the fiscal emergency was so dire, then the BOT exercised some pretty poor judgement and should not really be trusted in financial matters. And, I know that this point will never come out in the media, but, as you know, the faculty did accept what amounts to a pretty big pay cut, one that will especially hurt the junior ranks, the same people YSU needs to move forward with its new mission. Finally, although not related to your post, I'm always interested in how everyone complains that the university should take a cue from the private sector, yet no one in the private sector would negotiate a contract with a partner whose projections are off by millions of dollars almost each time they come to the table--that would be bad business.

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5jupiter(116 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Ever notice how it's always people who have themselves never amounted to much complaining about what others make, their benefits, etc?
Bertram is NOTHING more than a print agitator. He's similar to that other Valley crybaby, Dan Rivers of 570 WKBN.
The reality is Bert that most, if not all of us, do not begrudge other people a reasonable living. Most, if not all of us, see where this society and economy is headed and want to change it. We're not interested in seeing our friends and neighbors have their professions watered down, as you jealous cry-babies seem hellbent on doing. We realize that sooner or later it could be done to us....
Guys like you on the other hand, want to point fingers and claim injustice anytime someone has something that you yourself will never have.
Hey Bert, I believe there is even a commandment that goes something along the lines of: "Thou shall not covet thy neighbors property..."
You and Dan Rivers are guilty of that many times over....Go out and make a living for yourself: Quit vilifying those who have earned a living...jealously is such a nasty place to live!!!!

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6AtownAugie(850 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

What's this?! No venom at Cafaro this week? No punks approached your car at an intersection? Parking is your topic?! You are at Martha's Vineyard too?? I realize it is a challenge to write a column every week, but you signed up for it, big guy. C'mon -- no more "mailing it in" Bert. When you're stuck for a topic, instead of using those barrels of ink The Vindy provides you as your personal Viagra, maybe let Joe Scalzo take up the space? No matter what his topic du jour, I bet people would love it!

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7Tepee(7 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

To my understanding the entire proposal for a strike does encompass these major highlights: 1% increase to annual salary, a ten percent increase in medical co-pay from 5% to 15% and now this free parking subject. This in a nutshell would seem to be the only dilemma as a base from the fact finding report of Silver.

It is a no brainer that when a person would make more money the government does compensate by raising the federal income tax rate which is the base for state income tax and Youngstown municipal tax (RITA) with the only other option being end of year tax exclusion or a deduction to recover such funds previously paid. This is important for discussion as the only social classification able to “legally” take advantage of such a deduction or exclusion from taxable income would be someone with income.

One such classification according to the Silver fact finding report may be the average annual salary of a professor at YSU being $73,000 as an estimate. Someone that has made this amount should easily be able to recoup the monies paid by the increase in 10% medical co-pay along with a parking fee each semester they work. This would leave the remaining populace of those paid for instruction starting at the $12,000 per year salary that do not have a doctorate degree (e.g., Professor) and the remaining student body.

However, the fact is most of the remaining student body has no income that could exceed any payment toward an education from such a source as public assistance, taxable grant monies or of partial to a full scholarship award that would “legally” allow this exclusion or deduction recuperation from a tax return with regard to the parking fee. As an example, internet access, computer, printer, paper, an ink cartridge or mileage to and from a school is for the purpose of tax by the IRS of consideration to be a further deduction or exclusion relative to an educational expense if one has a minimal amount of income in order to take advantage of such a law. Unfortunately this unofficial fact finding report would not include a majority of the student body.

The small percentile that this does include would be able to receive any parking fee paid during a semester within that year tax filing and should not consider this to be a valid excuse to embark upon a possible strike as the only result would be passed to the majority of the student body who most likely will not be able to recapture such monies paid as a result with regard to any increase to the parking fee system in accompaniment to the already mounting 3.5% increase of tuition.

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8ytown1234(11 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

The Board of Trustees does not set the salary for the other administrators...only the president. Those who report to the president have their pay set by their contracts and approved by the president. Sweet gave all of his cronies raises year after year. It will take Anderson years to fix that too.

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9northsideperson(366 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Not all professors at YSU make $73,000 per year. Assistant and Associate professors - far more common than full professors - make much less.

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