YSU faculty votes to support strike authorization

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Members of Youngstown State University’s faculty union have voted to support an authorization to strike.

The 397 members of YSU-Ohio Education Association met Wednesday to vote on the action. The strike authorization will allow the executive bargaining committee to submit a 10-day strike notice to the state.

In another matter, the faculty also voted to express no confidence in the YSU Board of Trustees and the YSU Administration, according to YSU-OEA president Annette Burden. In an emailed statement, Burden said:

As YSU-OEA president, I would like to emphasize that this vote was called for due to actions, or the lack thereof, taken by the Board and the Administration. Despite the best efforts of our union leaders and negotiators to resolve conflict and keep an open and transparent line of communication with this Administration and with members of the Board, we have been unable to correct issues and address concerns; and faculty morale continues to decline. This stance by no means indicates unwillingness on the part of the YSU-OEA to work collaboratively with the Administration or with the Board in the future. However, our members made great sacrifices in the last contract in order to give the University an opportunity to get its financial house in order. YSU-OEA is now being asked to make even greater sacrifices, even though there has been no noticeable change in the Administration’s spending habits since the last contract. The Board and the Administration have shown little respect for our long tradition of shared governance. The dedicated members of the YSU-OEA take great pride in the quality of our positive involvement within the community, our research, and most importantly, the educational services we provide to our students.

Faculty members have been working without a contract since Aug. 17.

YSU-OEA chief negotiator Dr. Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, said this is the first time in 40 years that faculty members have worked without a contract for longer than one day.

Palmer-Fernandez said the major sticking point in negotiations is health care contributions. Currently, faculty members pay an aggregate of 15 percent toward their health care coverage. Individual contributions are based on a sliding scale according to the salary of the faculty member, which ranges from $40,000 to $110,000, to reach an aggregate of 15 percent.

The new contract spells out a plan for a flat 15 percent contribution across the board regardless of salary. Palmer-Fernandez said the change would cost a faculty member on the family plan an additional $960 a year.

“That is unconscionable. It is time for the faculty to express their voice on negotiations,” Palmer-Fernandez said.

The two sides will go back to the bargaining table Oct. 28. If an impasse is declared, the process will go into fact finding. Faculty will then vote on the fact finding report, which is due two weeks from Nov. 10. At that time, a strike notice could be issued.

On Tuesday, the YSU classified union met to update its membership on contract negotiations. The classified employees have been working without a contract since the middle of August, with the major sticking point being health care.

ACE had a 45-day contract extension that expired Oct. 1. The union spokesperson said the university is not negotiating with the union on pay raises.

The administration does not want raises for the three-year contract and wants to get rid of the pay step increases. The union gave up their longevity pay and the university wants them to take 10 furlough pays per year.

The next meeting is Nov. 13.

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