Youngstown State University faculty to strike on Monday

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Faculty members at Youngstown State University intend to strike beginning Monday as attempts continue to reach a new three-year contract with the school.

Mark Vopat, spokesperson for the faculty union, released a statement Sunday saying the Ohio Education Association had sanctioned a strike. Monday is the first day of fall break at YSU.

Vopat says union representatives will meet with school administrators Monday afternoon in hopes of reaching a new deal before students return from the brief break on Wednesday.

WFMJ Channel 21 reports school officials offered a three-year deal that offered no pay increases in the first year, but increases of 1 percent in the second year and 2 percent in the third year. According to WFMY, university officials say the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to a projected $3.7 million loss in revenue this fiscal year.

The union says it believes the university has a $7.3 million surplus, which school officials say is not the case.

YSU President Jim Tressel says in an email to students that the university is making plans to continue classes if the faculty strike continues Wednesday and beyond.

“Let’s remain optimistic,” Tressel says in the email. “You have shown great perseverance through this difficult year and worked hard to overcome many obstacles. We are committed to ensuring that you’ll be able to successfully complete this semester without disruption.”

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University of Illinois nurses vote to approve new contract, following week-long strike

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More than 1,300 nurses voted overwhelmingly Wednesday evening to approve a new contract with the University of Illinois Hospital and clinics, after a weeklong strike.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: University of Illinois Hospital RN Christine Sichuan listens at a rally as more than 4,000 SEIU represented hospital workers joined hospital nurses on strike, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

© E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
University of Illinois Hospital RN Christine Sichuan listens at a rally as more than 4,000 SEIU represented hospital workers joined hospital nurses on strike, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

The nurses voted 842-13 in favor of the new, four-year contract. The nurses’ union, the Illinois Nurses Association, had reached a tentative agreement with the hospital Sept. 24 after the strike ended Sept. 19.

A major sticking point in contract negotiations had been nurse-to-patient ratios. The nurses wanted ratios and the hospital did not, saying it preferred a model that matched nurses’ skills with patients’ needs.

Ultimately, the hospital committed to hiring the equivalent of at least 160 full-time nurses, “creating natural nurse-to-patient ratios that improve core staffing and quality of care,” according to a union news release. The hospital also agreed to raises of 1% the first year, 1.5% the second year, 1.75% the third year, and 2% the fourth year of the contract, as well as the implementation of various safety and protective measures.

“This contract represents a vast improvement compared to where we were before the strike and we are happy to see that the hospital recognized the importance of supporting the nurses,” said Doris Carroll, Illinois Nurses Association president, in a news release.

Michael Zenn, CEO of University of Illinois Hospital & Clinics, said in a statement last week that he was pleased the strike had ended and believed the new agreement was in the best interests of patients and employees.

During the strike, the hospital worked with an agency to bring in temporary nurses, asked ambulances to take new patients elsewhere, didn’t take


University of Michigan seeks restraining order to end graduate employee strike

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ANN ARBOR, MI – As the University of Michigan Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) voted to extend its strike for “a safe and just campus” for an additional five days, the university is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the union strike.

UM is asking the Washtenaw County Circuit Court to order striking members of the GEO to return to work. The union represents about 2,000 graduate student instructors and graduate student staff assistants.

In the court filing, UM noted that, “Not only are GEO’s members interfering in the university’s mission to educate students by unlawfully withholding their labor, they are encouraging impressionable undergraduate students, over whom they exercise significant authority, to forego their education.”

The strike began Tuesday, Sept. 8, as graduate students marched and chanted at five different locations on UM’s campus. It has gained the support of undergraduate students; graduate student organizations from other colleges, such as Harvard and Western Michigan University; and even some construction workers on UM’s campus who picketed with them in solidarity.

UM has since submitted an offer to GEO, but that offer was rejected.

In a news release, Schlissel said UM can no longer allow the “profound disruption to the education we’ve promised our undergraduate students” in authorizing the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

“We want our great classes to continue, our students to learn without interference and we don’t want anyone to feel threatened simply for wanting to go to class,” said Schlissel in a video to the campus community. “Going to the court was our only choice after learning the strike would continue. We’d much rather our classes be in session while we work out our differences.”

In the release, Schlissel said UM welcomes the opportunity to discuss the issues GEO has raised and noted the university’s