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YSU, unions chip away at budget to avert layoffs

Published: Thu, December 12, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.




Members of a joint task force of the Youngstown State University administration and four employee unions have agreed on about half of the cuts needed to prevent layoffs among union ranks. They have not, however, agreed yet on ways to save the whole roughly $600,000 needed — and time is running out.

The task force was formed at the unions’ request to explore ways to avert the layoffs, which started earlier this month. They include eight union employees, both full and part time. One nonunion employee, the director of Students Motivated by the Arts, or SMARTS, was laid off when that program was eliminated and will not be brought back.

“If in a couple more weeks we can’t reach consensus on how to fill that $600,000 hole, it probably doesn’t make sense to keep meeting any longer,” said President Randy J. Dunn.

Suggestions could be additional cuts or alternative revenue sources. So far, the agreed-upon amount has come from cuts, but Dunn declined to identify them unless the task force reaches a deal.

“We’re not giving up hope,” Dunn said.

In September, Dunn announced cuts to address YSU’s projected $6.6 million deficit. The plan includes a freeze in discretionary spending, laying off five full-time and four part-time nonfaculty employees, asking for voluntary furlough or vacation-day givebacks, campuswide operating budget cuts, technology-expenditure reductions and energy savings.

The deficit is the result of three years of declining enrollment and lower state support.

The task force includes Dunn, Gene Grilli, vice president of finance and administration; the presidents of the YSU Ohio Education Association, which represents faculty; Association of Classified Employees, representing classified civil service employees; Association of Professional and Administrative Staff representing professional and administrative employees; YSU-Fraternal Order of Police; and a second representative from each of those unions.

“We’re’ still hopeful, and we’re still trying,” said Annette Burden, president of the faculty union.

She said the task force marks the first time she’s aware of at YSU that union presidents and the president of the university have gotten together to try to devise budget solutions.

She said one idea being considered is donation of vacation. Faculty members don’t have vacation, so they would consider donation of a day’s pay or more, taken from their paycheck.

“Many of us are willing to do that to try to save our colleagues’ jobs,” Burden said. “In the spirit of the holidays, in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, many of us are willing to do that.”

Those employees would want assurance, though, that their donation was going to save someone’s job, she said, so if agreement isn’t reached by the task force, they don’t want to move forward with it.

The cuts announced by Dunn and approved by YSU trustees in September already include $230,000 in furlough and unpaid vacation days across campus, and Dunn said that what’s been pledged falls about $30,000 short of that goal.

Burden suggested launching a campaign across campus — union and nonunion — to see if more people would be willing to do it.

Even if the group can’t come up with ways to fill that hole, both Dunn and Burden believe the task force meetings were worth the effort.

“For everybody involved it was a good-faith effort to come together,” Dunn said.

Burden agreed.

Though she believes there’s a reason the university got to the point where it is, it’s time to look past that. Pointing fingers doesn’t accomplish anything, she said.

“We are where we are whether this administration got us to this point or not, we are where we are,” Burden said.

“Many of us have been here a long time, and we have a lot of pride in this institution. We’re stakeholders. We want to make this university as great it can possibly be, and we’re working toward that effort.”


1Knightcap(693 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Why not start with getting rid of that one new position where the person is supposed to find ways to increase enrollment. Three figures. I forget what the tittle was called, talk to me goose.

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2southsidedave(4780 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

The educational field is not the place for steady employment these days....government could care less about their budgets, raise tuition is the govt answer

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3theguins(167 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

When enrollment levels where roughly 15,000 students, 75 Administrative positions. Today with roughly 11.000 students, 125 Administrative positions.
Is it really difficult to figure out where you could come up with the additional $600,000.00 savings???

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4jgm820(115 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Agreed "theguins"....

Also, how about external searches for vacant administrative/director positions when EVERYONE knows exactly who is going to fill the position from within anyways. Stop wasting time and money bringing people (most often, much more worthy candidates) to campus when the position is all but filled from the start. Guess what? Then the cycle starts all over for THAT person's position.

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5richardlewis973(70 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Why not start with the Youngstown state university rent a cops. No reason to have 100 plus glorified security guards for that small area

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6gdog4766(1464 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I have read all the above postings and not one addresses the reason for these needed cuts. Why not assail Kasich over his deep and unwarranted cuts to public education in Ohio. To his credit, he's keeping his word about not supporting public education. And all his cuts made so he can bray like the ass he is about balancing the budget by denying the public benefits of their tax dollars.,just about every local school district had a levy on the ballot this past fall. And yet everyone blamed it on teachers pay, fallen tax revenue or inflation and costs. Yet not one school board laid the blame where it belongs.

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7123goz(548 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

gdog, you are right on target, and I have posted my views of or beloved Gov in the past. However, all but 1 of the above posts are correct too. That would be post 5. He is wrong on his numbers and opinion.

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8Guin96(40 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree with all of you except richardlewis. YSU police are police, NOT 'glorified security guards'. They are vital to keep our campus safe. I agree with the other posters about cutting the administrative costs on campus. Too many chiefs, not enough indians.

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