YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State University administration responded Thursday to the faculty union's decision to authorize a strike, taking issue with the timing of the union's press release.
YSU Ohio Education Association, the union representing YSU faculty, announced Wednesday the majority of members voted to authorize a strike. The news was shared an hour before President Jim Tressel addressed students via Facebook Live to outline plans for reopening campus in the fall.
Tressel did not address the vote in his presentation.
“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 the release.
YSU alleges the union's Wednesday release violates an agreement to avoid contact with media during contract talks.
The release also highlighted the university's financial challenges spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and expected decline in enrollment.
As a cost-cutting measure, the university announced May 28 its decision to restructure academic colleges — a move expected to save $1 million annually. The release of the plan was followed by news that more than 50 classified and professional staff were laid off.
YSU-OEA pleaded with university trustees to pause before approving the reorganization plan, but they voted to approve it June 4.
In its Wednesday release, YSU-OEA called the academic reorganization "hasty, unilateral and reckless."
"Although a strike is not imminent and a second strike vote would need to be administered to YSU-OEA before such a step could be taken, today's vote clearly indicates that YSU's faculty will not accept a contract designed to fundamentally dismantle shared governance," a union release states.
Tressel said in the release: “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 parties will enter fact finding on Monday, July 20. Both sides will present proposals and the fact-finder has 14 days to make a decision.