Negotiations flared early today as faculty and management teams returned to the table to work on the contract between the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
“When we began, the State System immediately demanded we make cuts totaling $70 million,” APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said. “That is not bargaining. That is dictating. We understand there are fiscal issues to consider, but on most of the core issues, the State System continues to insist on cuts that hinder our ability to provide a quality education for our students.”
Dr. Jamie Martin, APSCUF’s vice president and chair of the negotiations team, underscored negotiators’ ire.
“Their proposed treatment of our adjunct faculty continues to be extremely troubling,” Martin said. “At the bargaining table, they once said they wanted to turn our temporary faculty into ‘teaching machines’ by suggesting that their salaries be cut or their workload be increased by 20 percent. They actually said that. I was disgusted by their disdain. My colleagues are hardworking teachers and researchers who provide valuable service to our students and our universities. We are anything but ‘teaching machines.’”
After negotiators expressed their frustration, the State System caucused for nearly four hours, after which the State System withdrew a number of its 249 proposals from the table. Most significant, the System withdrew its proposal to have newer graduate students teach courses.
APSCUF negotiators were glad the sides made some progress, but the parties remain far apart, Mash said.
“This is not a game,” Mash said, referring to the Oct. 19 strike date APSCUF announced last week. “This is going to be very, very hard, given that most of the most-controversial items are still on the table.”
The teams are scheduled to meet Oct. 14–16. APSCUF offered to meet Oct. 8–9, which is a weekend faculty negotiators don’t teach, but the State System rejected those dates.
The faculty contract expired June 30, 2015, and negotiations have been ongoing since late 2014.
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.