Tressel Calls YSU-OEA Strike Threat ‘Disappointing’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Youngstown State University pushed back Thursday afternoon to a strike threat dangled before the public Wednesday by members of YSU-OEA, the faculty union.

In a news release, YSU said it is “again reassuring students and the community that it is working hard to ensure fall semester classes will be held without interruption starting Aug. 17.”

On Wednesday YSU President Jim Tressel outlined the university’s plan to return to campus for fall classes via an hour-long live presentation and Q&A on Facebook and YouTube that was viewed by more than 16,000 students, faculty and others.

Shortly before Tressel sat down to answer student questions on social media, the faculty union distributed a press release that, among other things, threatens a faculty strike. 

“It is disappointing that the OEA leadership would release such a statement at a time that the university is working hard to meet the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic and to ensure the continued operations of the university and success of our students,” Tressel said in a statement.

“We have great respect for our faculty, and their value to the university and our students is significant; however, we must meet the challenges before us by working in unison to keep our students and their continued education at the forefront.” 

The faculty union and the administration have been engaged in negotiations on a new contract since late 2019. The parties will enter fact finding July 20. Both sides will present proposals and the fact-finder has 14 days to make a decision. 

In June, YSU trustees approved a fiscal 2021 budget that projects a 15% decline in enrollment and a 20% decrease in state funding, and includes widespread layoffs, salary reductions and furloughs for non-faculty employees. Universities throughout the country are facing similar pandemic-related budget issues, including the University of Akron that announced dozens of faculty layoffs this week, YSU noted.

“The administration, the board of trustees and the community are truly grateful that our nonfaculty staff employees have recognized the challenges facing the university and have made sacrifices to ensure that our mission can continue and that our students continue to have opportunities for success,” Tressel said. 

“We look forward to working collaboratively within the negotiations process with our faculty to achieve the same goals through a fair and equitable agreement.” 

SOURCE: YSU News Service.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.