By Ed Runyan
Though negotiations with the faculty union at Youngstown State University generated most of the headlines, similar talks have been ongoing with the Association of Classified Employees union, and those talks have produced a tentative agreement.
Ron Cole, YSU spokesman, confirmed Saturday that the agreement was reached between the ACE and the university late Friday. Their negotiating session began around 4 p.m. and concluded sometime before 9:30 p.m., Cole said.
The parties agreed not to release any information on the agreement.
ACE represents about 400 workers, including groups such as clerical and maintenance employees.
Cole said he was unable to release any details of the deal because it is tentative and still has to be presented to the ACE membership and to the university board of trustees.
Brian Brennan, who was president of ACE until early this month, said he could not comment on the agreement and said he was unable to provide a phone number for Paul Trimocco, new president of ACE, who Brennan said is out of town.
Julia Gergits, president of the faculty union, said she doesn’t know many details of the tentative agreement but has confidence in what ACE is doing.
“I don’t believe they would accept something that’s not acceptable [to the union’s membership],” Gergits said, adding that she believes health care and wages were the last two issues under negotiation for ACE, as they are for the faculty union.
“I assume it [the agreement] is better than what we were looking at before,” she said. The faculty union has asked for another negotiating session with the university, Gergits said.
The trustees will have a previously scheduled quarterly meeting Tuesday, but Cole said he doesn’t know whether ratification of the ACE agreement will come up then.
ACE and the faculty union have participated jointly in talks with the university in recent weeks regarding health care, but ACE and the university have had separate negotiations from the faculty union for several months on all issues, Cole said.
As of Friday, ACE and the university had narrowed down their differences to a small number of issues, including health care, Cole said.
“Now it’s up to ACE to ratify the agreement and then for the university to ratify it,” Cole said.
Though the university gave the faculty union a last, best offer late last month, that was not the case with ACE.
But the same financial issues that guided negotiations with the faculty union — such as the university’s projected $7 million deficit — were at play in the negotiations with ACE, Cole said.
The faculty union’s last offer, which the faculty union rejected, called for no raises in the first two years of the contract with a 2 percent raise in the third and final year. It also called for increased health-care contributions from the faculty and a decrease in summer-school pay.
Cole said he would not comment on whether the tentative agreement with ACE results in similar concessions as the last, best offer made to the faculty union.
“We are very happy we were able to reach a tentative agreement with the ACE union, and we feel it’s a great step forward. We’re hopeful the contract will be ratified soon,” Cole said.