YSU Faculty Union Approves Strike Authorization

Youngstown State University’s chapter of the Ohio Education Association union approved strike authorization in a vote held on Oct. 22 at a special chapter meeting.

This does not mean that a strike will be called, but merely allows the union’s bargaining committee to issue a strike notice, as well as expressing the faculty’s willingness to strike if necessary.

This vote comes after a tense few months of negotiations concerning a new contract, which began on August 17. Though the faculty and the administration came to a tentative agreement earlier in the year, neither side could agree on health benefits — specifically on how much the faculty should pay in premiums.

Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, YSU-OEA’s chief negotiator and a professor of philosophy and religious studies, said the bargaining committee cannot call a strike until a fact-finding report is filed by the Ohio State Employment Relations Board.

According to Palmer-Fernandez, an arbitrator will be sent to enter into a fact-finding session on Nov. 10 — the session will last two weeks. After this period, the union will vote on the findings of the fact finder and on whether or not to ratify the contract.

After the report is issued and the votes made, the bargaining committee can then issue a strike notice. They then may enter a strike after a 10-day waiting period.

In addition, the union also held a vote to approve a “resolution of no confidence” against the YSU Board of Trustees and Administration. The resolution passed.

Annette Burden, the president of YSU-OEA and a professor of mathematics and statistics, said in a press release, “I would like to emphasize that this vote was called for due to actions, or 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 press release goes on to state that the faculty, within the last round of negotiations, made “great sacrifices” to help the administration and the Board restructure its spending, but that “there has been no noticeable change in the administration’s spending habits since the last contract.”

The press release also said the Board and the administration have shown no desire to collaborate and share governance with the faculty. The release also is clear that this resolution does not represent the faculty’s unwillingness to work with both the Board and the administration in the future.

Burden, in summary, said the, “Faculty has been disrespected for a long time; we have been demoralized, and we are tired of giving concessions year after year.”