YSU faculty union head: More money for academics

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As students head into the Thanksgiving break at Youngstown State University, faculty are questioning the university’s spending practices as they try to hammer out a deal for a new contract.

Instructors rejected a proposed three-year contract Monday that included 2.5 percent raises over the life of the agreement. Union leaders claim the pay increases were to be funded through other concessions.

“We were essentially told you want raises, you find a way to fund them yourself and that’s what we did,” said YSU/OEA president Annette Burden. “Faculty were just not willing to accept that.”

At the same time union members were looking over the agreement, Burden said they were also learning that head football coach Eric Wolford was being fired. His contract calls for a buyout of $150,000.

“They are going to bring in a new coach most likely at a higher salary,” Burden said.

Burden said student tuition is helping pay for that. According to a draft budget document, more than $10.5 million was transferred this year from YSU’s General Fund into the athletics department, which brings in only about $3 million in revenue.

While union leaders say more should be spent on academics, YSU spokesman Ron Cole said more than $5 million of the athletic budget pays for scholarships.

“Our athletic program brings students from across the nation here to the university to participate in athletics but also to participate in the academic side,” Cole said.

Cole said YSU trustees who had already ratified the agreement were surprised and disappointed by the union’s “no” vote. The deal was negotiated over several months with representatives from both sides.

Both sides are anxious to get back to the bargaining table but that may not happen until after the holiday break.

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