YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — YSU-OEA, the union representing faculty at Youngstown State University, announced Monday that a federal arbiter ruled in favor of two Dana School of Music professors who lost their jobs due to budget cuts last year. Now, those professors are to be reinstated immediately with back pay. 

The professors are Steven Reale, professor of music and former union president, and professor of music Randy Goldberg. University officials have not confirmed the ruling nor they have said if the two professors will be reinstated.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service arbiter, Jay Nadelbach, heard testimony from YSU administrators, union leaders and affected faculty. Nadelbach ruled that YSU violated the union contract when it let the professors go.

In the written “Arbitrator’s Award and Opinion” that was submitted to both YSU-OEA and YSU’s administrators on Dec. 9, Nadelbach agreed that the university “failed to properly apply several sections in article 13” and concluded that the grievants should be reinstated and “be made whole for all lost wages and benefits.”

“We are very happy to welcome back professors who were hastily let go last year, and we look forward to continuing our work on the curriculum and programs at YSU to find efficiencies while also protecting the diverse programs and faculty that make YSU an invaluable asset to the region,” YSU-OEA President, Mark Vopat, said. “We do not want to see any more faculty put through this long, damaging process of appeals and arbitrations. We want to focus our attention and resources on strengthening our programs, not building defenses against unjust terminations.”

The YSU-OEA maintains that faculty layoffs are premature. In the wake of last year’s faculty cuts and with the possibility of additional cuts this academic year, the union hired an independent analysis of YSU’s finances.

The analysis, conducted by Eastern Michigan University accounting professor Howard Bunsis, was released by the faculty union in November. Bunsis’ analysis concluded that YSU is financially stable.

YSU has maintained that full-time enrollment is down by 4% for this year, which is part of a trend at the university, and that there and there are at least 11 departments that are facing cuts in the future.