By Laura McDonough
The Youngstown State University Board of Trustees and the Ohio Education Association reached an agreement on Friday when the board of trustees unanimously approved their contract.
After the meeting Jamal Tartir, chief negotiator for the faculty union; A.J Sumell, president of the faculty union; Leonard Schiavone, president of the board of trustees; and Jim Tressel, president of YSU, held a press conference where everyone was in high spirits.
Tartir said with negotiations over, they can more effectively work together to face any challenges the university may encounter.
“Hopefully this ratification presents an opportunity for us to work together,” Sumell said. “Any university is going to face challenges, and I think we’re in a better position today then we were a few years ago. Hopefully we can just keep the momentum moving forward.”
Ninety-five percent of faculty who voted agreed to the contract, and Sumell said they feel it is a fair contract.
“We didn’t get everything we want, and I’m sure the board didn’t get everything they want, but that’s the nature of contract negotiations,” Sumell said.
When considering contract negotiations, Tressel said they can’t afford not to work together.
“We’re stretched with resources. Any negotiations when you have a contract, sometimes you say ‘gosh, are we going to be able to afford this? Well, we can’t afford not to work together. We can’t afford not to change the conversation,” Tressel said. “We’re looking forward to working with everyone so we can do that.”
Sumell said he hasn’t thought about the next round of negotiations in 2020, but they are in a better place to move forward now.
Schiavone, who has been chairman of the board for nine years and has seen three negotiations, said this was one of the better negotiations he has been a part of.
“We were able to work through the issues and work through the steps that we had to go through in the negotiations without things getting personal, without things getting very tense,” Schiavone said.
Schiavone said when Tressel’s predecessor Cindy Anderson was president of YSU, the board rejected the fact finder’s report and had to go through more negotiations. This time, it was about a procedural matter rather than a rejection of the report itself.
“Between both sides we were able to reach a very quick resolution of some issues with the fact finder we couldn’t agree to,” Schiavone said. “That was a real positive step. I really believe that was an indication of a really good working relationship being developed.”
With negotiations over, both faculty and administration are relieved to return to normal.
Tressel said although he did not personally spend time negotiating the contract, the faculty and administrative bargaining units spent many hours of their time devoted to negotiations rather than doing things they enjoy such as teaching and researching.
“The relief in my mind is our good people can get back focused on the things that they really enjoy the most and have the most impact,” Tressel said.
The new contract agreement includes an annual salary increase of 2 percent for the first year, 2.5 percent for the second and third years. Minimum salaries increase $2,800 per rank, promotion pay increases $300 and a new salary schedule for summer sessions will be administered.
At this time, there is no comment from Tressel on the ACE union negotiations.