As strike date draws near, talks continue
As the Oct. 19 strike date set by the union for state university faculty and coaches comes closer, both parties have released conflicting statements over the progress of talks aimed at preventing the strike.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, (PASSHE) and the faculty union, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), released a flurry of statements Thursday over the progress in negotiations.
In a statement released by PASSHE spokesman Kenn Marshall, he stated progress had been made toward an agreement, however a statement released by the faculty union on the same day indicated that tempers flared during negotiations, and also an-
nounced that the union filed an unfair-labor-practice charge against the state system last week. Buried farther down in the statement, union officials did acknowledge some progress was made.
“Although we have been treated unfairly, I pledge to keep going to the table for the sake of our students and universities,” Kenneth M. Mash, president of APSCUF, wrote. “We just hope we will not be met with more of PASSHE’s cynical showboating.”
In PASSHE’s statement, officials wrote that some progress was made towards an agreement, and reiterated they have offered APSCUF faculty $159 million in raises and stated the union has not agreed to a health care plan similar to what other state systems and employees have.
“We continue to explore multiple options for finding ways to generate cost savings that are necessary in order to afford the raises we have offered,” Marshall wrote. “We have never worked so hard to try to give someone a pay raise.”
Also in a statement Thursday, APSCUF officials stated during negotiations that state system representatives wanted to turn temporary faculty into “teaching machines,” by increasing their workload and cutting salary.
In a follow-up email with Marshall, he wrote that the term was “never used in reference to state system faculty.”
APSCUF faculty have repeatedly stated they do not want to strike, but will if they feel they are not negotiated with fairly. In previous disputes, negotiations never failed to the point where a strike was enacted, but the union cautions it has come increasingly close in recent years.
Both sides have repeatedly failed to see eye-toeye on issues such as health care and course load, and both sides have repeatedly said they are keeping students attending universities in the state system in their best interests.
Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester universities are all part of PASSHE, and APSCUF represented all faculty from all the state universities.
Union members belonging to West Chester University’s faculty protested on the university’s campus Sept. 7.