Faculty union says YSU’s reference to small schools isn’t fair comparison

By jeanne starmack



Youngstown State University’s faculty union says the administration is unfairly comparing the university to small, private schools to make a case that the faculty is not underpaid.

A YSU spokesman contends that comparison is only part of the picture that the university presented in fact-finding.

As the administration and the YSU chapter of the OEA go back into talks today, the union is complaining that the administration selected only data that made its case in the fact-finding process.

The university offered a list of schools that offer master’s programs in Ohio. Out of 11 schools on that list, only YSU is a larger public university. The others are small, private colleges ranging in enrollment from 1,545 to 11,119, and their average salaries are less than YSU’s, said Sherry Linkon, spokeswoman for the OEA.

YSU’s enrollment is 15,084.

Linkon said in the spring, negotiating teams for both sides agreed to a different list of comparable schools. That list included master’s program schools and others, including Bowling Green and Kent State universities, from throughout the country.

The union says that if the university had used that list, it would have shown that the YSU faculty isn’t making as much money as the average.

The average salary for full professors from the list of small, private Ohio schools is $81,200. The salary average for the list that includes schools nationwide is $95,600. At YSU, the average is $93,400.

“It’s in the administration’s best interest to make a case that we are not underpaid,” Linkon said Thursday.

She said it looks logical on the surface to use the comparison of YSU to other Ohio schools offering master’s programs.

“But the Ohio IIA’s [schools that offer master’s programs] are not like YSU,” she said, adding that they have “different missions.”

Ron Cole, YSU spokesman, said there are many ways to devise a list of comparable schools.

“You look at schools categorized by independent agencies,” he said Thursday.

The Ohio IIA schools and also IIA schools nationwide are included in the American Association of University Professors Faculty Salary Survey.

He also said the list of Ohio IIA schools was presented in the fact-finding process as only one part of an overall picture.

“This is not the only list that went before the fact finder,” he said. He said there were other comparative data presented to Howard D. Silver of Columbus that show where the university ranks nationally in salaries.

“To raise this as an issue hours before we’re going to sit down only clouds the situation,” he said.

Both sides meet at 10 a.m. today in Cushwa Hall.

Talks resumed last Friday, the first set of negotiations since the union voted to strike but then backed down. Negotiators are sitting down today for the second time since then.

The 400-plus-member union, on Aug. 26, rejected what the university called its last and best offer of no raises in the first and second years of the contract and 2 percent in the third.

The offer called for a reduction in summer-school pay from 3.75 percent of faculty members’ nine-month salary per credit hour to teach a summer course to 3 percent of their nine-month salary per credit hour. The offer also called for faculty members’ paying 10 percent of the health-insurance premium the first year, 12 percent the second year and 15 percent the third year.

Faculty members paid 1.5 percent of their salary for health insurance for a family plan and 0.75 percent of their salary for a single plan under the old contract, which expired Aug. 17.

Faculty salary minimums are $75,674 for professors, $64,215 for associate professors, $51,238 for assistant professors and $38,689 for instructors.

Salaries range from $39,832 to $161,321. The average salary for a faculty union member is $72,213.

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