YOUNGSTOWN - Emerging from the stone church next to the Butler Institute of American Art on Tuesday, officials with the faculty union at Youngstown State University announced a "reluctant" ratification of an agreement between the union and the university.
Members of the local Ohio Education Association accepted the tentative agreement by what one member called a close vote.
''It was close,'' said Stan Guzell, chief negotiator for the YSU-OEA, who added that the union's policy is to not divulge the exact vote numbers. ''We had two-thirds of the members vote, and it was closer than usual.''
The YSU-OEA represents about 405 faculty members.
''Our members accepted this concessionary contract for the overall good of YSU, though it will be a financial hardship for most of us,'' said Julia Gergits, YSU-OEA president.
The three-year contact calls for no raises in the first two years and a 2 percent increase in the third year. The union also agreed to changes in summer class pay rates and health care contributions.
The new structure will set a cap of $80,000 on summer school pay. Instructors will earn three percent of their yearly salary per course, but for instructors who make more than $80,000, their rate will be based on the cap number, not their salary.
Guzell said the average pay for professors at Youngstown State University is $72,500 per year, not including summer pay.
''The summer pay formula has been the same since 1974 and this year they said they absolutely couldn't abide by that,'' he said.
Employee health care contributions will be tied to their salaries at a rate of 10 percent the first year, 12 percent the second year and 15 percent in the third year.
The union also made concessions regarding extended teaching service pay. A cap of $100,000 will be set, with a per course rate set at 3.25 percent the yearly salary.
Also accepting a new three-year agreement were members of the Association of Classified Employees union. The non-teaching employees said they ratified their agreement 190 to 63.
Their three-year contract calls for the same zero percent raises the first two years with a 2 percent increase the third year.
ACE employees' health- care contributions also will increase to 10 percent of the premium the first year, 12 percent the second and 15 percent the third year.
YSU President Dr. Cynthia Anderson thanked the members of the faculty and classified unions for ratifying the three-year contracts.
"I want to thank the faculty and staff employees for recognizing the difficult financial challenges facing the university and agreeing to make concessions to help address those challenges," Anderson said in a statement. "And, finally, I want to thank the negotiating teams for both of the unions as well as the administration for their many, many hours of dedicated service and commitment to the university."
University trustees are scheduled to vote on both contracts next Tuesday.