Negotiators for the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties are outraged after today’s bargaining session with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, held at APSCUF’s Harrisburg office.
The State System’s comprehensive contract proposal includes:
· Increasing the minimum number of courses adjuncts must teach to be considered full-time employees — but without increasing pay, effectively cutting their salaries by 20 percent
· Permitting people without master’s or doctoral degrees to teach courses
· Increasing the number of different courses adjunct faculty have to teach in a semester
· Giving administrators the unfettered ability to move faculty members among departments and teaching sites
· Attempting to shift nearly $9 million in healthcare costs to faculty, including adjunct faculty who will pay more with reduced salaries
· Eliminating funding used by faculty to keep up-to-date in their disciplines
“The hallmark of our universities has always been that students will learn from highly credentialed faculty members who are dedicated to their students and their universities,” said Dr. Jamie Martin, APSCUF’s vice president and chair of the faculty negotiations team. “Our alumni consistently point fondly at that aspect of their university experience. The State System now openly seeks to undermine that quality.”
APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash echoed Martin’s reaction to the proposal.
“Every student, every parent, and every alumnus of our universities should be insulted by the proposals the State System put on the table today,” Mash said. “In fact, every resident of the Commonwealth ought to be alarmed. The faculty will not sit idly by while the leadership of the State System tries to move our great universities in the direction of Trump University.”
The faculty contract expired June 30, 2015, and this was the State System’s first comprehensive, multiyear proposal since bargaining began in late 2014. Previously, the State System offered one-year contract proposals that called for similar givebacks. Other statewide public-sector unions signed one-year deals that included step increases in January 2015.
“Now we know why the State System waited over a year to put these proposals on the table,” Martin said. “They knew how angry we would be.”
APSCUF negotiators presented a series of proposals that sought to improve working conditions and salaries for faculty, particularly those at the lower end of the pay scale.
“We are a union; that is what we try to do,” Mash said. “Our goal is always to attract and retain the best faculty we possibly can.
“We are fully expecting the System to distort our intent and to manufacture some theoretical cost. We are prepared now — and we have been prepared for more than a year — to negotiate seriously. There is no part of our being that desires a strike, but we will make that stand with pride to protect our students and ourselves.”
Delegates at APSCUF’s April legislative assembly voted to postpone a strike-authorization vote until either the summer or early fall. If a majority of APSCUF delegates call for a strike-authorization vote, the next step is for full APSCUF faculty members to vote on their campuses. A simple majority of faculty members gives Mash, in consultation with APSCUF’s negotiations committee, the authority to set a strike date.
Neither the faculty nor the coaches at the State System universities have ever been on strike.
APSCUF has not set a date for a special legislative assembly. Its regularly scheduled assembly meets in September.
“There is enough in their contract proposals the State System presented today to insult and harm every faculty member, but we are used to that,” Mash said. “Going after the quality of our students’ education goes over the line. We will not be participants in the undermining of the System’s legislatively mandated charge to deliver a quality education to our students.”
Negotiators previously met April 28. That meeting was the first negotiations session between the parties since Jan. 8. The next negotiations session is scheduled for June 24.
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.