By Denise Dick
A former Youngstown State University union chief fired after being accused of threatening other employees and poor work performance can have his job back.
An arbitrator last week ruled that Ivan Maldonado, former president of YSU’s Association of Classified Employees, should be “returned to work immediately.”
Maldonado’s discharge should be reduced to a suspension, the arbitrator, Michael E. Zobrak, of Aliquippa, Pa., determined.
He found that the purported threats either didn’t provide cause for discipline or deserved no more than a verbal reprimand. Regarding Maldonado’s job performance, Zobrak determined there was “not sufficient cause to bypass progressive discipline.”
He cited Maldonado’s favorable annual job evaluations before his termination.
Both Ron Cole, a YSU spokesman, and Atty. Ira Mirkin, who represents ACE, said it hasn’t been worked out how or when Maldonado, who had worked in the university’s payroll office, will return.
Mirkin said Maldonado is ready, willing and able to go back to his job.
“He’s very happy and very happy to be going back,” Mirkin said.
Any suspension imposed would be done so retroactively considering the amount of time since Maldonado was discharged, Mirkin said. All of that must be worked out between the university and Maldonado, and if they cannot agree, they will return to arbitration, he said.
“The arbitrator found that there clearly were significant deficiencies in job performance, significant concerns regarding [Maldonado’s] behavior as a YSU employee and that YSU was correct in taking disciplinary action,” Cole said. “This particular arbitrator determined that suspension was the appropriate disciplinary action in this case.”
Maldonado was fired in 2009.
In its 2009 termination letter, the university said that Maldonado “threatened and menaced” a female ACE member in a telephone call relating to a letter of agreement Maldonado previously had signed with the then-chief human resources officer for the university. The termination letter also stated Maldonado “made physically threatening statements and lewd, indecent or obscene statements” referring to other university employees during a telephone call with another female ACE employee, again related to that letter of agreement.
In addition, Maldonado made “significant” errors in his job, including failing to follow court-ordered wage garnishments and certifying false information to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, according to YSU.
He previously had been acquitted in Youngstown Municipal Court of a misdemeanor menacing charge related to the purported threat.
In June 2012, a visiting judge in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court found Maldonado innocent of two counts of falsification and one count each of grand theft, tampering with records, theft in office and theft related to the payroll scandal.