YSU labor agreements expiring within days

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The deadline is drawing near as labor agreements between the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees and its faculty and classified staff unions are set to expire in a few days.

On Tuesday, the YSU Board of Trustees met in executive session and got an update on where things stand in the collective bargaining process. The YSU Association of Classified Employees contract expires Friday and the YSU Ohio Education Association contract expires Sunday. Classes are supposed to start Aug. 20.

“It was just an update to the board, to update them on the status of negotiations,” YSU spokesman Ron Cole said of Tuesday’s meeting.

YSU professor Dr. Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez sent an email to President Jim Tressel on July 31, claiming the administration’s negotiation team “failed to negotiate and squandered taxpayers’ money.”

He did not want to go on camera, but said on the telephone that there are no joint negotiation sessions scheduled until Sept. 2 and there is “no way a contract or tentative agreement will be reached, voted on or approved before the start of classes” on Aug. 20.

Cole said the administration is in the process of trying to schedule something within the next few days.

“We are hoping that we will be able to do that and we will be able to move forward, resume the negotiations and come to an agreement,” Cole said.

YSU faculty last went on strike in 2005. They were hours away from a strike in 2011, but decided against it at the last minute and worked under an extension of their old contract for the first month of classes. Dr. Fernandez said about 70 percent of the nearly 400 members of the YSU faculty union are ready to strike right now.

Cole appeared more interested in talking about events coming up on the YSU calendar, including commencement on Saturday, Tressel’s installation ceremony on Monday and the start of classes. All the activity makes it unlikely the two sides will head back to the bargaining table before the contracts expire.

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