Union representing faculty sets strike date, talks continue

Ray Hunter
September 23, 2016

Faculty at Pennsylvania's state-owned universities will go on strike October 19 unless a contact is reached with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with more than 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more who are enrolled in certificate and other career-development programs.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) made the announcement this morning, noting it will not strike "if the State System negotiates a fair contract".

"My colleagues and I are exhausted of wasting our time", Mash, a political science professor at East Stroudsburg University, said.

"Our hope is that we never get to the point of being on strike", said Mash. "We can't afford to stop meeting".

Although the system maintains it has offered $159 million in pay raises, Mash said much of that money would be given back in health care concessions that the system is demanding.

The two sides say they'll return to the bargaining table.

"We should be able to find a resolution through meaningful discussion, continued dialogue and reason", said State System spokesman Kenn Marshall.

You can find more information on the potential strike here. The $159 million in raises would be provided in exchange for healthcare plan changes and other contractual changes that would produce needed cost savings of about $70 million.

Mash said there is no limit on how long the strike would go.

"They want to talk about salaries, but they don't mention the amount of givebacks that they're asking for", Mash said.

PASSHE did not respond to the request, Mash said.

The State System did not agree to APSCUF's proposal to enter binding arbitration, during which a three-person panel could conclude the contract dispute. In fact, further negotiations are scheduled between labor and management trying to avert what would be the first faculty strike across the 107,000 system system that in Western Pennsylvania includes California, Clarion, Edinboro, Indiana and Slippery Rock universities.

The roughly 5,500 faculty and coaches at universities across the state have been working under contracts that expired at the end of June a year ago.

Union officials said there are some additional steps they would need to take internally before a job action, but said they could accomplish those items in a phone call if necessary.

Other reports by MyHealthBowl

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