State university coaches vote to authorize strike over stalled contract talks

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – Coach members at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities this week voted to give Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties leaders the authority to call a strike should it be deemed necessary.

APSCUF today counted ballots, which were cast Wednesday and Thursday at universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Of those 97 percent of APSCUF coach members who voted, 94 percent were in favor of authorization.

“The message of today’s vote is a simple one: We do not want to strike, but we won’t allow a large part of our membership to be put in financial peril,” Coach Executive Leader John Gump said. “A more than 200 percent increase in cost to pay for a healthcare plan that delivers less to many of our members and their families is unacceptable, and we stand together to say the State System has to do better.”

Coaches also want to negotiate a more inclusive process for elimination of sports as well as a “just cause” standard for employment nonrenewal that includes a grievance procedure.

“Right now, coaches can be nonrenewed and not given a reason, and there is no recourse,” Gump said.

With this affirmative vote, a majority of APSCUF’s coach leadership committee, plus the endorsement of APSCUF’s executive council, can approve a strike. If leadership approves a strike, APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash can, in consultation with the coach leadership committee, notify coach members of the decision and select a date.

Coaches do not plan to set a strike date before they next meet with the State System, Gump said. Coaches’ next negotiations session is slated for Sept. 26. (This release has been updated to reflect a change in the schedule.)

Negotiations have been ongoing since late 2014 but have not yielded a contract that APSCUF feels preserves quality and is fair to coaches and student-athletes. The coaches’ contract 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.