Education

YSU Trustees OK Contract with Administrative Staff

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – After more than 1½ hours in executive session Monday afternoon, the trustees of Youngstown State University emerged and quickly ratified a three-year contract with APAS, the union that represents 166 administrative and professional staff.

Last week the YSU chapter of the Association for Professional and Administrative Staff overwhelmingly voted to accept the contract, retroactive to July 1, that freezes their wages through June 30, 2018.

After two informational meetings, a member said, the members voted in a secret ballot at the third.

Besides the wage freeze, the new agreement reduces how much members can be paid for accrued sick leave when they retire, reduces the top-level annual vacation accrual and the time the university must give APAS to notify members of layoffs. It increases the university’s ability to subcontract work that otherwise would be performed by its members.

The contract, YSU said, makes changes in health-care insurance which covers APAS members “that are consistent with classified employees,” that is, members of the Association of Classified Employees.  Although ACE overwhelmingly rejected the contract  negotiated with YSU , trustees imposed what the negotiators had agreed to, the president of ACE, Connie Frisby  clarified Wednesday afternoon.  Frisby was the lead negotiator for ACE.

Depending on “changes in health-care insurance,” the university says, APAS members could receive “a one-time lump sum payment averaging $1,000 per employee in the third year.” But there’s no assurance.

In a prepared statement, the president-elect of APAS and its chief negotiator, Ed Villone, said, the wage freeze agreed to “is a bitter pill to swallow” but unavoidable in light of budget cuts the University of Akron said it will make (READ STORY).

“The constant theme of our team was job security for our members and finding creative ways to meet the needs of the university while not sacrificing our own needs and concerns, said Villone, commander of the police academy at YSU. “We believe these objectives were satisfied and done without having to yell, scream or even raise our voices during a very professional process.”

He reiterated those sentiments in a telephone interview last night. The two information sessions were necessary, he said, because changes in the health-care language of the contract “was so difficult to explain” even though his membership “is well versed and knowledgeable on these things,” that is, efforts to contain such costs.

“We’re not in this for the short term,” Villone continued. “I have a good feeling about the direction we’re [YSU is] headed,” and agrees with YSU President Jim Tressel’s assessment that this should be the last contract with “concessionary constraints. Job protection was our primary goal.”

Villone does not foresee his members seeking employment elsewhere simply in reaction to the wage freeze.

The chairwoman of the YSU trustees, Carole Weimer, praised the APAS negotiating team “for their professionalism and spirit of collegiality during these challenging financial times.”

Trustee James E. “Ted” Roberts, chairman of the negotiations subcommittee, called the contract “a balanced agreement for the coming three years.”

With the APAS contract ratified, negotiations with only remain with the YSU chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, President Jim Tressel noted. The FOP agreed to extend its contract, which expired June 30, through Sept. 1. YSU and the FOP have held two negotiating sessions to date with a third set for Monday. Tressel expressed optimism that a new contract will be reached before then.

With the wage freezes YSU unions have acceded to, Tressel expressed concern that YSU employees will leave for greener pastures. “The last thing we want is to lose talented people for the wrong reasons,” he said after the meeting.

In 2018, when the next rounds of bargaining with the faculty, classified employees, professional and administrative staff and police are held, Tressel said, “We hope to be able to grant pay raises to everybody.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.