By Amanda Tonoli
Youngstown State University’s faculty union and administration will continue contract negotiations another day, but both sides say they are closer to an agreement on a new three-year faculty contract.
Citing a technicality, YSU’s Board of Trustees rejected the fact finder’s report for the faculty union’s contract Wednesday afternoon.
Provost Martin Abraham said the board is not allowed to approve an amended report.
The board, however, directed the administration’s negotiation team to return to the table to draft a tentative agreement based on the recommendations and amendments that were collaboratively developed by both sides.
“We need to convert the amended report into contract language,” he explained. “But we came to agreement between [the union’s] side and our side which resulted in the amendments. It’s just a requirement to reject the fact finder’s report.”
Minutes after the board announced its decision, YSU’s faculty union overwhelmingly approved the fact finder’s report which was amended by the administration, said A.J. Sumell, union president and economics professor.
“The administration came to us to make some of the changes in the amended report,” Sumell explained.
Fact finder and lawyer Susan Grody Ruben of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals of Cleveland issued the original fact finder’s report Sept. 12.
The amended report is the result of changes made during an emergency meeting called Friday afternoon. The changes include summer compensation and base-salary increases.
The amended report includes faculty pay increases of 2 percent this year and 2.5 percent in each of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.
The original report’s salary-increase recommendation called for 2 percent increases each year for the three-year faculty contract.
This change came after a change in summer compensation, as well.
Summer compensation in the amended report states: “Faculty teaching undergraduate courses with enrollment of 15 or more students, or graduate or swing courses with enrollment of nine or more students, shall receive $2,250 per credit hour.
“Faculty teaching undergraduate courses with enrollment of 11 to 14 students, or graduate or swing courses with enrollment of seven or eight students, shall receive $1,900 per credit hour. Faculty teaching undergraduate courses with enrollment of 10 or fewer students, or graduate or swing courses with enrollment of six or fewer students, shall receive $1,550 per credit hour,” says the amended report.
Dee Crawford, vice chairwoman of the board of trustees, said both the union and the administration are “nearing the finish line.”
“We are pleased to report that a pathway has been cleared for both the administration and the union to reach a tentative agreement,” she said in a statement released by the university.
“We look forward to working with our faculty to finalize details.”
Sumell was not quite as optimistic as Crawford.
“I don’t know if I would call this a positive thing,” he said.
“It came as a surprise [to the faculty union] they [the trustees] officially rejected what they told us they would agree to [the amended report].”
But, Sumell said if the trustees are willing to continue to honor their agreement – “like they said” – and they will accept the agreement under the same terms and conditions of the amended fact finder’s agreement, it is good enough for them.
Abraham said the board will reconvene to accept a tentative agreement written in contract language that “looks essentially like” the amended report.
The faculty union will also have to vote on the same agreement.
Further details of the agreement will be released once both sides approve it.