The threat of a strike at Youngstown State University is unacceptable. The students are innocent victims in this entire situation. The Ohio Education Association is essentially holding students hostage. Many students, including myself, work two or three jobs to just get by and pay tuition. The threat of a strike is why Senate Bill 5, now known as Issue 2, must pass. Striking in the private sector is one thing because that only affects a small aspect of the community. But a strike in the public sector is much more harmful. YSU has approximately 16,000 students. The strike affects each and every one of them because of a delayed -- or worst-case scenario, canceled -- semester. It affects the entire community. The OEA is holding the people of Youngstown hostage because of their greed.
Our tuition has gone up 3.5 percent this year, yet the faculty expects a raise? That is intolerable. How is that fair to the students who work so hard to get through school? At a time where unemployment sits at skyrocket highs and working-class people are forced to take pay cuts and benefit reductions, why should we continue to give those in the public sector more and more raises?
The union is fighting one major issue and that is healthcare coverage. The administration asks that they pay 15 percent towards their benefits, but the OEA cries foul over this. Currently, YSU employees pay a small percentage towards their benefits -- many close to 1 or 2 percent. As healthcare costs continue to climb, it is a fair request that the union’s employees pay their fair share.
The $8 billion budget deficit affected us all. With the budget cuts, funding was lost. Students sucked up and accepted their 3.5 percent tuition increase this year. We sacrificed; it is time our professors do the same. The administration is simply asking for a pay freeze, yet the union is publicizing that they are being asked for a pay cut. College students are facing rising tuition, high unemployment and a jobs outlook that is the bleakest in our lifetimes, I think it is unacceptable for the unions to be acting like the victim in this scenario.
(YSU President) Dr. (Cynthia) Anderson is doing a fine job negotiating fairly. She has taken part in both sides of negotiations. Most recently she was a part of the union negotiating team in 2005 helping secure the expiring contract. This shows she is an honest and fair negotiator, yet the OEA is willing to hang her out to dry because she is in the position now to ask them for a compromise in these tough economic times.
The threat of a strike just days before the start of the fall semester is why Collective Bargaining Reform known as Issue 2 is so vital to not only the financial security of our state, but to the fairness towards students for years to come.
Vice Chairman YSU College Republicans