State col­lege and uni­ver­sity union sets strike date

APSCUF mem­bers are pre­par­ing to strike start­ing Oct. 19

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

Af­ter weeks of failed ne­go­ti­a­tions and pub­licly lam­poon­ing each other, the union rep­re­sent­ing the fac­ulty of Penn­syl­va­nia’s state uni­ver­si­ties has for­mally an­nounced a strike will take place Oct. 19 if what the union deems a fair con­tract can­not be reached.

Ken­neth M. Mash, pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Penn­syl­va­nia State Col­lege and Uni­ver­sity Fac­ul­ties (APSCUF), an­nounced the strike date early Fri­day morn­ing via a livestream Face­book news con­fer­ence.

“The state sys­tem has asked for tens of mil­lions more in con­ces­sions from fac­ulty than they have from any­one else,” Mash said. “Fac­ulty of­fered a ma­jor health care con­ces­sion, but the state sys­tem did not change their of­fer.”

Shortly af­ter Mash made his an­nounce­ment, Kenn Mar­shall, a spokesman for the Penn­syl­va­nia State Sys­tem of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (PASSHE), is­sued a state­ment where he high­lighted what PASSHE of­fi­cials feel are rea­son­able of­fers to the union, in­clud­ing $159 mil­lion in pay raises.

“A strike by fac­ulty runs counter to ev­ery­thing that higher ed­u­ca­tion

stands for,” Mar­shall wrote. “The union is falsely claim­ing that we are not be­ing se­ri­ous; $159 mil­lion is se­ri­ous money.”

In PASSHE’s state­ment, of­fi­cials wrote that in­di­vid­ual fac­ulty could re­ceive raises be­tween 7.25 per­cent and 17.25 per­cent, but would re­quire changes to other ar­eas such as health care to help the state sys­tem cut costs.

A state­ment re­leased by the union states that PASSHE wants to, among other things, in­crease the

use of tem­po­rary fac­ulty in­stead of per­ma­nent fac­ulty and al­low grad­u­ate stu­dents to teach classes in­stead of fac­ulty.

Th­ese an­nounce­ments come on the heels of what has been de­scribed as “marathon talks,” where the state sys­tem and union ne­go­ti­ated at length but ul­ti­mately failed to reach an agree­ment.

Pre­vi­ously, both sides sought to pur­sue a third­party so­lu­tion to the con­tract im­passe. The state sys­tem for­mally re­quested the pro­posed ne­go­ti­a­tions be re­viewed by an ar­biter ap­pointed by the Penn­syl­va­nia La­bor Re­la­tions Board.

At the time, Mar­shall said the la­bor re­la­tions board could de­cide whether or not to move for­ward with ar­bi­tra­tion by Fri­day. How­ever, no for­mal an­nounce­ment has yet been made.

Like­wise, the union of­fi­cials pro­posed both the union and state sys­tem en­ter bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the union, un­der this method both sides would agree to up­hold what­ever agree­ment a three-per­son panel de­cides upon - an of­fer the state sys­tem re­buked since they would have to agree to the con­tract with­out see­ing it first.

Talks are set to re­sume in early Oc­to­ber. If the union

and state sys­tem reach an agree­ment, a strike will be averted.

“We will con­tinue to go to the ta­ble in an earnest at­tempt to ne­go­ti­ate a fair deal. It is time for the state sys­tem to do the same,” Mash said.

Union mem­bers have fre­quently stated they do not want to go on strike, but will do so if they feel they do not re­ceive a fair agree­ment. The state sys­tem has also pre­vi­ously said the con­se­quences of a strike rest solely with the union.

Both sides have re­peat­edly said they are mak­ing an hon­est ef­fort to ne­go­ti­ate fairly with each other, and each claim the other

side has been un­rea­son­able.

Threat­en­ing a strike is a move APSCUF of­fi­cials fre­quently make ev­ery time con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions are un­der­way, and union of­fi­cials have cau­tioned they have come closer to strik­ing in re­cent years.

The po­ten­tial for a strike to oc­cur started com­ing closer to re­al­ity when APSCUF fac­ulty voted over­whelm­ing to au­tho­rize union lead­er­ship to an­nounce a strike date.

Union fac­ulty had the op­por­tu­nity to vote from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9, and ac­cord­ing to union of­fi­cials 93 per­cent of union mem­bers who voted opted for strike au­tho­riza­tion.

APSCUF also rep­re­sents ath­letic coaches, who held a sim­i­lar vote sev­eral days later and like­wise au­tho­rized a strike.

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.

To con­tact Daily Lo­cal News staff writer Adam Farence, email afarence@ dai­ly­lo­cal.com, or call 610-235-2647.

ADAM FARENCE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Some of West Ch­ester Uni­ver­sity’s union­ized fac­ulty protested ear­lier in Septem­ber about the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion they said the state sys­tem is putting them through.

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