APSCUF votes to strike, students at 14 state-owned universities seek answers

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Faculty leaders now can set a strike date, after faculty members at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities overwhelmingly voted to give leaders that authority.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties today counted ballots, which were cast last week at universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Of those 82 percent of APSCUF faculty members who voted, 93 percent were in favor of authorization.

“The vast majority of faculty clearly grasp the seriousness of the situation,” APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said. “Chancellor Frank Brogan and the State System need to get serious very quickly.”

Faculty are objecting to State System proposals that would, among other issues, substantially increase the use of temporary faculty in lieu of permanent faculty, would make use of students with few graduate credits to teach courses, would stop funding faculty research and professional development, would force on-campus students into distance education sections, would cut the lowest-paid faculty members’ salaries by 20 percent, and would charge more for reduced medical benefits while salaries remain stagnant.

The vote is the third of multiple steps before a faculty job action could commence. The remaining steps, which include committee approvals and setting a strike date, could happen during a phone call, Mash said.

“We will not set a date until we have at least one more chance to go to the negotiations table to ensure that we are doing everything we can do,” Mash said. “A strike remains the last resort.”

The next faculty contract-negotiation session is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 16.

APSCUF coaches will participate in a strike-authorization vote Sept. 14–15.

Voting comes amid negotiations that have been ongoing since late 2014 but have not yielded a contract that APSCUF feels preserves quality and is fair to faculty — and students. Faculty and coach contracts expired June 30, 2015.

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.

Source: The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties