YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The standoff between Youngstown State University faculty and the administration over the faculty employment contract could soon be over.
It hinges on whether the faculty union, the Ohio Education Association, approves the fact-finder’s report that came out the second week of September and whether YSU’s Board of Trustees approves it, too.
The faculty contract ran out on August 15 and the two sides have not been able to come to an agreement on a new contract.
Toward the end of August, the OEA unanimously voted to give its bargaining team authorization to call a strike if the team thinks it’s necessary.
A fact-finder was brought in to determine what is fair to each side for the new contract.
On Monday afternoon, about 250 members of the OEA came to Beeghley Hall to vote on whether to approve the terms in the fact-finder’s report.
“We got the fact-finder’s report last week,” said OEA spokesperson and English department teacher Linda Strom. “Today we had an opportunity after reading it over the weekend to ask questions and the negotiating team also presented. And we asked questions and we voted.”
Details of the report won’t be released until both the faculty and university trustees vote on it.
But the union has said its members aren’t happy with YSU’s proposed changes to salary and workload.
“I want to remind everybody it’s not just about money,” Strom said. “It’s also about, we are concerned about maintaining the quality of education at YSU and the programs if we cannot retain and attract new faculty. That has a great impact on our programs and on our students as well.”
Previously, WKBN 27 First News reported that Strom said the proposed salary and changes to courseload by administrators signal a lack of respect for faculty and student success.
“Just have to wait. I can’t really say anything other than we’re hopeful,” Strom said. “Settling would be great, if that happens. We are still teaching now and doing everything we always do but it would be good when we can get this settled. That would be great.”
Members voted until 5:30 p.m. Monday. The voting will continue Tuesday and Wednesday until 3 p.m. After that, the votes will be counted and the union will either approve the report or reject it.
“[If the report is rejected] What we will do is either continue negotiating or go out on strike,” Strom said. “The same is true if the board of trustees turns down the contract.”
The faculty at YSU is not a stranger to striking.
“We’ve had at least, in the last few years, we had a one-day strike that was a few years ago,” Strom said. “Then the latest one was five days but that was before school started.”
With school in session now, Strom said the administration and faculty do not want students to be penalized.
YSU’s Board of Trustees also needs to vote on the fact-finder’s report.