Uni­ver­si­ties, union pur­sue 3rd-party so­lu­tions

APSCUF and PASSHE fail to agree on key is­sues

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Farence afarence@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @afarence on Twit­ter

WEST CHESTER >> As ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween state uni­ver­si­ties and the fac­ulty union con­tinue to stall, both sides pro­posed con­tract dis­cus­sions be han­dled by a third party but un­der dif­fer­ent rules.

On Monday, the Penn­syl­va­nia State Sys­tem of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (PASSHE), pro­posed ne­go­ti­a­tions be re­viewed by an ar­biter ap­pointed by the Penn­syl­va­nia La­bor Re­la­tions Board.

Ac­cord­ing to PASSHE spokesman Kenn Mar­shall, both sides send in pro­pos­als to the ar­biter, who then makes rec­om­men­da­tions. The rec­om­men­da­tions made by the ar­biter can mix pro­pos­als from ei­ther side and are non-bind­ing, Marhsall said.

“It gives us an­other tool to move this process for­ward,” he said. “To

have a neu­tral third party look ev­ery­thing over.”

He said the la­bor re­la­tions board could de­cide whether or not to move for­ward with ar­bi­tra­tion by Fri­day.

The day after PASSHE pro­posed the la­bor re­view board look at the pro­pos­als for non-bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Penn­syl­va­nia State Col­lege and Univer­sity Fac­ul­ties (APSCUF) an­nounced a re­quest to sub­mit pro­pos­als to bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by APSCUF, the terms of the con­tract would be de­ter­mined by a three­p­er­son panel where each side would se­lect one pan­elist and agree on a third, and both sides must fol­low what­ever rec­om­men­da­tion the panel makes, and ac­cord­ing to Mar­shall, one side is picked over the other; there is no mid­dle ground.

Ken­neth M. Mash, pres­i­dent of APSCUF, de­scribed PASSHE’s move as a “mixed mes­sage,” since it de­lays APSCUF’s abil­ity to go on strike for 40 days. Both univer­sity fac­ulty and coaches voted over­whelm­ingly to au­tho­rize the union to go on strike.

“Fact-find­ing ends a con­tract dis­pute in only about 25 per­cent of cases,” wrote Mash. “But bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion is ef­fec­tive in 100 per­cent of the cases in which it is agreed to. We be­lieve our stu­dents want this over as soon as pos­si­ble, and we hope the State Sys­tem will agree to the bind­ing-ar­bi­tra­tion process that will al­low ev­ery­one to fo­cus on our stu­dents.”

How­ever, Mar­shall noted the rea­son bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion is 100 per­cent ef­fec­tive is be­cause both sides are bound to what­ever de­ci­sion the panel makes.

“Bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion is go­ing to be ef­fec­tive 100 per­cent of the time, be­cause you have to agree be­fore you start,” he said. “We have never gone along with that.”

Mar­shall said APSCUF has of­fered bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion in the past, but has al­ways turned down the of­fer.

Threat­en­ing to go on a strike is a move APSCUF makes every time con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions oc­cur, but the union has cau­tioned it has come closer to go­ing on strike in re­cent years.

Both sides have re­peat­edly said they want to ne­go­ti­ate a fair con­tract, but have failed to see eye to eye on key is­sues such as wages, health care and course load.

Around 30 of West Chester Univer­sity’s fac­ulty marched on the cam­pus’ aca­demic quad when the strike au­tho­riza­tion vote be­gan Sept. 7. Fac­ulty had un­til Sept. 9 to cast their votes, where Ac­cord­ing to APSCUF, 82 per­cent of union fac­ulty par­tic­i­pated in the vote.

Of those that voted, 93 per­cent chose to au­tho­rize the strike. APSCUF de­clined to re­lease in­di­vid­ual school re­sults, in­clud­ing West Chester Univer­sity.

The fac­ulty protested in front of col­lege stu­dents sign­ing up to join clubs, fra­ter­ni­ties and soror­i­ties.

West Chester Univer­sity has 914 fac­ulty mem­bers, ac­cord­ing to the union’s most re­cent count. Union of­fi­cials, how­ever, de­clined to state how many WCU fac­ulty mem­bers were part of the union, but stated the num­ber among tenure­track fac­ulty is “very high.”

Both sides have re­peat­edly said they want to ne­go­ti­ate a fair con­tract, but have failed to see eye to eye on key is­sues such as wages, health care and course load.

“Bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion is ef­fec­tive in 100 per­cent of the cases in which it is agreed to. We be­lieve our stu­dents want this over as soon as pos­si­ble, and we hope the State Sys­tem will agree to the bindin­gar­bi­tra­tion process that will al­low ev­ery­one to fo­cus on our stu­dents.” — Ken­neth M. Mash, pres­i­dent of APSCUF

Ac­cord­ing to Ed Lor­dan, West Chester Univer­sity’s spokesman for APSCUF, said the con­nec­tion be­tween univer­sity fac­ulty and ad­min­is­tra­tors re­mains strong and re­spect­ful, but stu­dents are get­ting con­cerned about the sit­u­a­tion.

“The stu­dents are get­ting ap­pre­hen­sive about things, un­der­stand­ably,” Lor­dan said.

Across the state sys­tem, APSCUF rep­re­sents around 5,500 fac­ulty mem­bers. In ad­di­tion to West Chester, Blooms­burg, Cal­i­for­nia, Cheyney, Clar­ion, East Strouds­burg, Ed­in­boro, In­di­ana, Kutz­town, Lock Haven, Mans­field, Millersville, Ship­pens­burg, and Slip­pery Rock uni­ver­si­ties, are part of PASSHE.

ADAM FARENCE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

As­so­ci­a­tion of Penn­syl­va­nia State Col­lege and Univer­sity Fac­ul­ties mem­bers have re­peat­edly stated they do not want to strike, but have left the option on the ta­ble.

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