HARRISBURG, Pa.– With the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties setting a strike date of Oct. 19, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is asking the faculty union to return to the bargaining table next week and resume negotiations.
“A strike by faculty runs counter to everything that higher education stands for,” said State System spokesman Kenn Marshall said. “We should be able to find a resolution through meaningful discussion, continued dialogue and reason. We can’t afford to stop meeting. This is too important to our students. We need to continue talking.
“Even today, there is $159 million on the table for our faculty, if APSCUF will help us find a way to partially offset those costs. The union is falsely claiming that we are not being serious; $159 million is serious money.
“We are committed to providing our faculty raises, but some cost savings are necessary to ensure the financial sustainability of the System. We need to achieve a resolution that will ensure our students continued, uninterrupted access to a high-quality, affordable education.”
Under the State System’s latest proposal, individual faculty members would receive raises ranging from 7.25 percent to 17.25 percent over the life of the new contract. The $159 million in raises would be provided in exchange for healthcare plan changes and other contractual changes that would produce needed cost savings of about $70 million. “So far, the union has offered only a minor change in healthcare deductibles that actually would be offset by additional healthcare demands they are making,” Marshall said.
The raises the State System is proposing for faculty essentially would track those agreed to earlier this year by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in negotiations with the Commonwealth. APSCUF is seeking even larger increases.
At the conclusion of five days of marathon bargaining Wednesday, the State System urged APSCUF to remain at the table until a resolution was reached. APSCUF declined to continue the talks and said it would not return to the bargaining table before next month.
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with more than 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more who are enrolled in certificate and other career-development programs. Collectively, the 14 universities that comprise the State System offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. Nearly 520,000 State System university alumni live in Pennsylvania.
The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. The universities also operate branch campuses in Oil City (Clarion), Freeport and Punxsutawney (IUP), and Clearfield (Lock Haven), and offer classes and programs at several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and in Center City in Philadelphia.
SOURCE: PASSHE Release