Faculty union casts vote of no confidence

By Abigail Cloutier

Members of Youngstown State University’s faculty union, YSU-OEA, and Association of Classified Employees, ACE, voted “no confidence” last week in response to administration’s COVID-19 protocols.

YSU-OEA spokesperson and BCLASSE faculty senator Mark Vopat introduced the motion during an academic senate meeting. YSU-OEA has also filed an association grievance, alleging that the university has failed in its contractual obligation to provide a safe and healthful working environment.

Union president Susan Clutter said the YSU administration has mishandled its COVID-19 response from the beginning.

“For example, only after students and faculty protested in August did administration implement an indoor masking policy for the fall 2021 semester, despite knowing their filtration systems were not upgraded across campus as they had promised,” Clutter said.

YSU-ACE president Chuck Shaffer said its executive committee polled its membership about issuing a no confidence vote against the administration’s handling of COVID-19.

“While we do not support all of OEA’s demands, YSU-ACE decided to stand with OEA and the vote of no confidence in the administration for how they have handled the entirety of the pandemic response,” Shaffer said.

A hearing between administration and the unions is slated for the coming weeks. In response, YSU representative Ron Cole said, “For more than 18 months, in close consultation with our public university colleagues across the state, as well as local, county and state health officials, YSU has put into place protocols and procedures (all clearly enumerated on the university’s consistently-updated Coronavirus Information webpage) that have resulted in a safe campus and minimal reports of COVID-19 cases among our students and employees.”

Youngstown commissioner of health Erin Bishop called the university the “gold standard” in a meeting, according to Cole. 

He said only one-third of the faculty union cast a vote in the no-confidence vote and two-thirds abstained.