Work to end YSU strike for students’ sake
Unwilling to accept the contract proposal offered by Youngstown State University, members of the faculty union began striking Monday morning.
The impact was not significant during the first two days of the work stoppage, as there were no classes Monday and Tuesday because of the previously scheduled fall break.
But Wednesday, things got more serious. That’s the day students returned to class to find most of their professors on the picket line, rather than offering the instruction for which they have paid.
During a daytime bargaining session, talks wrapped up around 5 p.m. To reach common ground, however, we believe the sides should be continuing their talks around the clock. They could have ordered dinner in, and continued their attempts to hammer out an agreement without pause. That did not happen.
However, we are pleased to see a later negotiating session added Wednesday evening.
According to information released Wednesday by the university’s administration, the latest contract proposal included increasing base salaries by 4 percent. It called for no pay raise during the contract’s first year, and base pay raises of 2 percent in both the second and third years.
The 337-member Youngstown State University-Ohio Education Association, or YSU-OEA, faculty union, has said while finances are important, other issues are even more important to the membership. Those include loss of shared governance in university issues on things like election of chairpersons, determination of class sizes, workload issues and an appeals process for tenure and promotion.
Certainly, we understand that members of the faculty deserve to be respected and fairly compensated for their very important role in making YSU the fine university that it has grown to be.
At the same time, students deserve to be educated by the professors as expected, the ones who were listed on the class prospectus when the semester began. Remember, many of these students were among those unexpectedly sent home during spring semester, driven by COVID-19 to finish their classwork virtually for several months.
Imagine the challenges these students faced, especially those forced to take costly high-level courses or even science labs online.
Now, students have returned to the classroom, hoping for some semblance of normalcy, only to find their professors are not in the classroom, but on the picket line. Many learned their classes were canceled. Others found substitute teachers taking the helm.
Indeed, it is the students who will suffer from this work stoppage, increasingly with every passing day.
It is promising that both sides have acknowledged optimism, but frankly, that is not enough. Until an agreement is reached, both faculty and administration negotiators should not be heading home.
We urge the two sides to work tirelessly to settle these differences for the good of the university, for the good of the faculty members, but especially for the good of the students.