Update: YSU Trustees Approve Contract with Faculty Union

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown State University Board of Trustees this morning unanimously approved a new three-year contract with the university’s faculty union – more than a week before classes begin Aug. 28.

“It’s a great day for YSU and the surrounding community,” said Jennifer Pintar, associate provost. “To be able to get this far along before the semester starts – I don’t know if we’ve ever done that in the history of YSU.”

Pintar said bargaining teams came to the table with the goal of student success in mind. 

“Students were put first, and we really worked together to set the stage for what’s going to be a very vibrant future for YSU,” she said.

Members of the Ohio Education Association Faculty Union ratified the new three-year contract by a substantial 89% margin, according to the university. The union represents 259 faculty members at YSU.

“We’re very happy that they approved the contract,” said Mark Vopat, president of OEA-YSU. “We were pleased with the process.”

Vopat said that negotiations began in earnest around April and moved along at a solid pace. “These were respectful and reasoned negotiations. Overall, it’s a good contract.”

Vopat said the contract calls for a 2% increase in faculty salary plus a $1,000 cash payout over the first two years, and a 2.5% raise during the third year of the agreement. There is also an increase of a base-salary minimum for faculty. The cash payouts are intended to offset the costs of rising health care premiums.

The agreement also calls for the creation of a nontenure track position, principal lecturer, Pintar added.

“We are hoping that we will have a lot of those faculty members engaged in the community,” Pintar said. “We had a lot more focus on community engagement this time around.”

The existing contract was set to expire Aug. 27; the new pact covers a three-year period beginning Aug. 21, 2023, through Aug. 20, 2026.

Trustees met for more than an hour in executive session before calling the special meeting to order just after 11 a.m.

“It’s tremendous that the university and the faculty union reached an agreement well before the start of classes,” Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Peterson said at the close of the meeting. “From what we heard, it was a very respectful process, and we thank the negotiating teams for their diligence and dedication.”

Peterson said approval of a new collective bargaining agreement is an important step toward attracting the best candidates as the university begins its search for a new president.

Dr. Helen Lafferty has served as YSU’s interim president since the retirement of Jim Tressel on Feb. 1, 2023. Tressel served as YSU president for eight years.

Trustee Charles George presented a resolution acknowledging Tressel’s leadership within the community and YSU.

In honor of Tressel and his wife, Ellen, the board passed the resolution renaming University Plaza – which runs east off Wick Avenue to Bryson Street – as One Tressel Way.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.