By Todd Franko (Contact)
Published December 15, 2008
“The buyer’s remorse to which the University has now succumbed does not excuse the University’s unconscionable smearing of Mr. (Ivan) Maldonado and YSU-ACE.”
That’s part of a letter sent by union attorney Ira Mirkin to Youngstown State University president David Sweet, adding that the university was “apparently derelict in conducting its own due diligence of the wage schedule proposed by YSU-ACE.”
At issue is a new contract approved in July by the Association of Classified Employees and YSU. The agreement called for three years of raises in the mid-2 percent range for the 380-member workforce.
There is now fallout over the pact because it’s been revealed that one person received a raise that would amount to almost a 100-percent pay hike — the union’s president, Maldonado. His pay was at $44,429 in 2007. In 2009, he will ascend to $82,613.
A technicality – an adjustment in job classifications, not a job promotion or change in duties — allowed for Maldonado to cash in.
The mess, revealed recently, has led to many actions at YSU, including placing on leave Craig Bickley, the HR official who negotiated the contract. Also in the works is an attempt by YSU to reclaim some of the funds already paid to Maldonado.
The union is stepping in in an effort to protect the contract and Maldonado’s new salary. That’s where Mirkin’s letter above comes in.
And it brings us to a text book case of how unions can earn a bad name.
They simply are not pouncing on a chance to do what’s right.
It’s the same misguided measure of what’s right that convinces automaker CEOs to tool around frivolously in private jets, including to government sessions so they can beg for money.
Proof of the union’s misguided judgment is to see them allege what the university did wrong. The union has simultaneously charged that YSU has buyer’s remorse and is derelict of due diligence. How can you be both?
When you measure all the details, it’s clear that one person for sure knew what was about to happen to Maldonado — and that was Maldonado. Bickley’s role is unclear, and he’s rightly on the sidelines until it’s sorted out.
But union leadership should stay on the sidelines for this as well.
Or if it is to jump in, it should be to quietly coach Maldonado how to do the right thing.
It’s clear he didn’t know how to do the right thing during the contract work when he saw his pay was going to nearly double while the workers he represented were to gain about 7 percent.
And it’s clear he’s still struggling now to do what’s right.