YSU faculty calls off planned strike

Faculty at Youngstown State University called off a planned strike just hours after the union rejected what the university administration called its final, best offer.

At 7 p.m., Sherry Linkon, a spokeswoman for the more than 400-member union, announced the offer was rejected by a "pretty substantial majority."

"We're very sorry to have to go on strike," Linkon told members of the media.

But shortly after 10 p.m., Linkon issued a news release backtracking from the strike plans.

"Youngstown State University’s faculty union has decided to call off the strike scheduled for Friday. This will allow classes to begin on Monday," she said in a statement.

The union statement went on to say "…this action also benefits students,ensuring that they will not only be able to begin the semester on time but also receive the financial aid funds that the administration has frozen."

Earlier in the evening YSU President Cynthia E. Anderson issued a statement expressing the university's disappointment in the vote.

"We recognize that this is a difficult contract, and we understand that accepting concessions is not easy. These are, however, unprecedented economic times for the university, the state and the nation. The budgetary challenges we face are enormous. Sacrifice by all is necessary in order for the university to live within its means this year and into the future."

The union has contended that while members are willing to make some concessions in recognition of the economy, they believe the university can afford more than what's being offered.

Stan Guzell, chief negotiator for the faculty, said the university has the money but wants to use it for other goals.

"It's not that they don't have the money, it's that they want to spend it on things that don't include" the faculty union, he said.

Later in the evening Guzell called on the university to return to the bargaining table.

"We hope to continue talks as soon as possible.”

Sudershan Garg, chairman of the YSU Board of Trustees, said in a statement that the board stands unified and firmly behind the contract offer.

"The board's responsibility is to ensure the financial viability of this institution, and we take that responsibility seriously," he said."This was our last, best and final offer; it represents the steps needed to help the university regain its financial footing. I had hoped that the faculty would recognize that, and I am disappointed that they apparently have not."

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