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Faculty contract negotiations between the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education ended with disappointment and frustration today.

“The State System actually presented us with a one-year proposal that was worse than the one they had given us earlier,” APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said.

Earlier this month, faculty decided not to strike during this academic year out of concern for the difficulties students faced during the extensive state budget battle. “We were angered by the lack of progress being made at the negotiations table and upset with the attacks by legislators and state system officials on faculty during the legislature’s appropriations hearings last month,” said APSCUF Vice President Dr. Jamie Martin. “Our faculty were ready to go on strike, but we pulled back for the sake of our students. Today the State System ignored our good will and decided to fan the flames.”

The State System shared a one-year contract proposal that was virtually identical to an earlier counterproposal that seeks to shift nearly $9 million in health care costs to faculty. The only difference was that this proposal delayed a step increase until June. “They took an insulting proposal that we had already rejected, and they made it worse,” Mash said. “Of course, we rejected it immediately.” Every other statewide public sector union signed a one-year deal and received a step increase in January of last year.

Faculty negotiators countered with a proposal with a one-year deal with a retroactive step increase, but unlike previous proposals it did not include additional money for research. “We sought to compromise, but System negotiators virtually sneered at our proposal before rejecting it. Our legislative assembly is set to meet again later this summer or early in the fall to discuss authorizing a strike. The State System knows this, and rather than try to seek compromise, System negotiators chose to be provocative,” said Mash.

Today’s meeting was the first negotiations session between the parties since Jan. 8. Negotiations, which have been ongoing since late 2014, had been slated to continue Feb. 12, but the State System requested later dates due to personnel changes.

The next negotiations session is scheduled for June 10, 2016. The collective-bargaining agreement between the parties expired June 30, 2015.

APSCUF represents about 5,500 faculty and coaches at the State System universities: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania.