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YSU isn’t unique among state universities facing challenges



Published: Sun, October 9, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Perhaps the most surprising AS- pect of recent efforts to reach a contract with faculty members of Youngstown State University is that some faculty still express a combination of amazement and a sense of martyrdom that they had to make concessions.

We’re pleased that YSU-OEAmembers ultimately approved the contract that was offered to them, but we have our own sense of amazement that the union vote was a close one.

A day before, members of the Association of Classified Employees, which represents clerical, maintenance and other university employees, approved a tentative agreement. It, like the faculty contract, calls for no raises the first two years, a 2 percent increase the third year and increased costs for health care. It also eliminates enrollment bonuses. ACE officials reported that the final count was 190 yes, 63 no.

Classified employees approved their contract by a 3-1 margin, while a similar contract only squeaked through in the faculty vote.

It is difficult not to conclude that nearly half of the voting faculty has either a tenuous grasp on the economics of the day or an inflated sense of their own value in the market place.

That last trait was demonstrated during the negotiations when one faculty member opined that he was worth $200,000 a year in private enterprise, about twice his university salary.

What is anything worth?

The statement reminded us of an anecdote. A man we know likes to browse though antique malls; his wife accompanies him reluctantly. Invariably he will spot some artifact of his childhood — say a tin gas station/carwash — with a price tag of $100. “Look at that,” he’ll exclaim, “I had one of those, and we threw it away. Now it’s worth $100.” She’ll roll her eyes and respond, “No, dear, if it was worth $100, it wouldn’t still be here.”

Tomorrow, that toy may sell for the ticketed price, or five years from now it may sell for $50 — or $200. The value of anything varies with the times and circumstances. It is flexible, and it is incumbent on all of us to recognize that.

We recognize that Youngstown State University is a vital asset to the city and the entire Mahoning Valley. And, obviously the university is the sum of its facilities, its history, its students and its faculty and other employees. But we also recognize that YSU faces economic challenges today that reach beyond cuts in state funding.

The university faces competition for entry level students from Eastern Gateway Community College, and it has to adapt to a new state funding formula that rewards retention of students and graduation rates, not enrollment numbers.

In short, it is quite possible that the negotiations of 2011 will prove to be easier than those of 2014. And while YSU will face some unique challenges in the coming years, it will not be unique in facing challenges. Virtually every institution of higher learning, at least those in Ohio, is going to have to adapt.

Some, with The Ohio State University at the top of the list, will have more pull in Columbus than the lower-tier institutions. But all are going to be making decisions that will roil some of the people on campus — from students to classified employees to faculty and administrators.

The sooner everyone recognizes that hard reality, the better.


Comments

1repeaters(208 comments)posted 3 years ago

Everyone,
Remember this editorial when the school levies are endorsed by the Tax-a-cator. Double talk is their forte; not the truth. Can't wait to read their "dancing with the stars" (I mean techers) articles and editorials.

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2Guin96(40 comments)posted 3 years ago

I agree with much of what is stated in this article. "It is difficult not to conclude that nearly half of the voting faculty has either a tenuous grasp on the economics of the day or an inflated sense of their own value in the market place." This sttement also applies to the administration. Let's see if they will be true leaders now. I wonder if they will "recognize the hard reality" pointed out in the article. Stop the wasteful spending there. The employees have done their part, now let's see the administration buckle up and do the same. There is a supposed hiring freeze going on now. I hope we will not see unnecessary high level administrative jobs being created and filled to reward people. Like those they recently tried to push through to get two new assistants for a high level administrator who apparently can't do the job he was hired to do. Stop the game playing so everyone can move forward.

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3RustOnMyBelt(114 comments)posted 3 years ago

As a unionized steelworker with two children attending YSU I must say that it makes me proud to see collective bargaining at work. Nothing could have been done until their contrats were up and ,then, they could sit down,negotiate and from what it looks like concede on pay and health care in light of all that is going on around us. Its not fair to single-out those who still voted against their contract. This is democracy at its finest! The majority spoke and the contract DID pass. This ought to be the focus. Collective bargaining does work.

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4maeby12(9 comments)posted 3 years ago

"It is difficult not to conclude that nearly half of the voting faculty has either a tenuous grasp on the economics of the day or an inflated sense of their own value in the market place.

That last trait was demonstrated during the negotiations when one faculty member opined that he was worth $200,000 a year in private enterprise, about twice his university salary."

It's these kind of statements that make the vindy so not credible. Really? Were you there at the negotiations?? Or are you just making this up to make the unions sound bad?? It is the vindy that has "a tenuous grasp on the economics of the day or an inflated sense of their own value in the market place." I cannot believe how these articles and opinions are based on nothing verifiable...just bashing a group of people for the sake of bashing. Ok vindy, we get it. You hate YSU's unions. But know this, you have earned the rep of being a rag because you never get to the truth of anything.

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5Spiderlegs(141 comments)posted 3 years ago

Vindy can't even give a nice compliment. Already it wants to pick a fight for negotiations in 2014.

We need to keep in mind that if the state goes through with its plan to base financial apportionments on retention and graduate rates, YSU may be forced to give up its mission as an open-enrollment institution, which currently means that it is willing to take a chance with "high risk" students whose presence could affect retention. I suppose if YSU decides to change its admissions policies to keep its state subsidies, Vindy will complain. Or if it stays open admissions and loses money due to low retention rates, Vindy will complain about this, too, charging YSU with low standards and then conclude that its faculty are overpaid.

Essentially, Vindy is going to complain no matter what YSU does. Why doesn't Vindy just admit that it hates YSU, and then we can all move forward?

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