YSU faculty union vows no more concessions, authorizes strike notice
By Amanda Tonoli
Youngstown State University’s faculty union will make no more concessions when it comes to this year’s contract negotiations.
Faculty voted unanimously in a Tuesday afternoon meeting to authorize the union’s negotiating team to issue a 10-day strike notice.
The authorization gives the union the option to call for a 10-day strike notice. Union members would discuss and vote on a strike at a subsequent meeting.
The strike authorization vote does not mean a strike is immediate.
Members agreed that they had made concessions in 2011 and 2014, but believe if they let it happen in 2017, it will only continue in 2020.
The union’s negotiation team agreed that it doesn’t want to strike, but said it may be necessary to get the administration to give fair wages and what some called an equitable contract.
Members think proposed salaries and changes to course-load policies signal a lack of respect for faculty’s role in student success and would undermine the quality of programs offered at YSU, said Linda Strom, Youngstown State University-Ohio Education Association faculty union spokesperson and YSU English Department associate professor, in a statement.
The Vindicator reported Aug. 19 that the administration’s proposed contract did not include increases in minimum salaries and included a 1-percent salary increase each year based on an email sent by the union crisis and communications committees and addressed to union members.
An administration memo also obtained by The Vindicator and dated Aug. 21 states: “The administration’s wage proposal calls for a 1-percent salary increase in year one, and a 1.75-percent total increase in each of years two and three (which includes a merit and retention pool in years two and three). On [Aug. 18], however, the administration increased that offer, presenting a significant and meaningful additional wage proposal.”
YSU has the lowest-paid faculty at a public university in Ohio, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The average salary of an assistant professor at a public university in Ohio is $70,000, and YSU’s average is $60,800. The average salary of a full professor at a public university in Ohio is $107,900, and YSU’s average is $88,200.
“In 2016 many of YSU’s highest paid administrators, including the provost and vice presidents, received $5,000 to $10,000 raises, despite widespread campus dissatisfaction with administrative priorities voiced in the recent Campus Climate Survey,” Strom read from the union statement. “We have to put our resources where our priorities are. Our priority is our students’ success, and a big part of that is attracting and keeping exceptional faculty at Youngstown State.”
The union statement continues that YSU has lost about 10 percent of its full-time faculty throughout the past 10 years, in part because of increased workload and lower take-home pay from previous contracts.
“We are worried that more will leave YSU or never choose to come to YSU in the first place,” Strom read. “Faculty members are frustrated that the proposed contract from the board of trustees did not include reasonable salary adjustments for faculty after six years of faculty concessions.”
Despite the discontent, Strom said both the union and the administration still have to meet and discuss a fact-finder’s report which should be available in the first week of September.
“At that point, the public can be informed about specific details in the contract proposals,” Strom continued. “The YSU-OEA and the YSU Board of Trustees will have an opportunity to review the report and vote to accept it or reject it. If the report is rejected by one or both sides, they will continue negotiating.”
YSU’s administration released its own statement saying the administration remains confident in the fact-finding process and the ability of both teams to negotiate a fair and equitable contract.
After the fact-finder’s report is released, both sides can accept or reject it.
“In any case, and regardless of the union’s actions today, fall semester classes will begin as scheduled [today]. As we welcome nearly 13,000 students to campus, we look forward to a successful academic year,” the statement concludes.