Sept. 21, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Faculty negotiators left a fourth consecutive day of bargaining with a timeframe in mind for a possible strike, should talks continue to devolve between the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, APSCUF leaders said tonight.
During today’s session, APSCUF officially informed State System negotiators and the mediator that unless a contract is reached, faculty members will go on strike by Oct. 30.
“This is not a specific strike date,” APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said. “We shared this parameter with the State System because it is information we must transmit to the commissioners on the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board as they consider whether to initiate fact-finding.”
APSCUF yesterday asked the State System to enter binding arbitration, during which a three-person panel could conclude the contract dispute. APSCUF requested the State System answer by 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23. The day before, the State System sent APSCUF a formal announcement that it wants to undergo nonbinding fact-finding with a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board arbitrator. The board has not yet decided whether to grant the State System’s request. APSCUF prefers binding arbitration because it will bring the entire matter to a conclusion, Mash said.
“Our negotiations team is convinced that the State System leadership wants a strike,” Mash said. “What else could possibly explain the fact that they would continue to put on the table proposals that my members will find incendiary? They just do not seem to care if they diminish our universities and if our students suffer.”
Negotiators for APSCUF and the State System began meeting last Friday and met daily except Saturday. Talks today began at 10 a.m. and lasted until 6:30 p.m. at a neutral location.
APSCUF leaders later this week will join delegate members from all 14 State System campuses for the organization’s regularly scheduled legislative assembly in Harrisburg. When that concludes Saturday afternoon, a strike-training workshop will commence.
“Since the proposals State System negotiators have placed on the table have gone backward, we have no choice but to move forward,” said Dr. Jamie Martin, APSCUF vice president and chair of the faculty negotiations team. “I truly wish I was returning to Indiana University to teach my courses and reassure my students, but we just cannot let the State System diminish academic quality, hurt students, and treat faculty differently from any other state employee.”
Mash said he is glad this month’s strike-authorization vote spurred the State System to meet often in the past week.
“But it really seems that the System wants meetings just to say there are meetings,” he said. “We will continue to go to the table as often as possible to avoid a strike, but it is hard to imagine that we will emerge from this weekend without a strike date — unless the State System agrees to binding arbitration.”
Faculty and coach contracts expired June 30, 2015. Negotiations have been ongoing since late 2014.
Overall, APSCUF objects to State System proposals that would affect the quality of education faculty members could provide to their students. Such proposals would, among other issues:
- Substantially increase the use of temporary faculty in lieu of permanent faculty
- Make use of students with few graduate credits to teach courses
- Stop funding faculty research and professional development
- Force on-campus students into distance education sections
- Give university presidents unilateral authority to transfer faculty members to other departments
- Cut the lowest-paid faculty members’ salaries by 20 percent
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.