APSCUF votes in favor of strike

Category:  News
Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 at 9:26 PM
APSCUF votes in favor of strike by Macala Leigey
APSCUF holds a 'Burgers or Ballots' event Wednesday. The event was held in the hopes of registering students to vote in the coming 2016 election.

It’s been three days since the Association of Pennsylvania State College Union Faculties (APSCUF) voted in favor of authorizing a strike against Pennsylvania's State System For Higher Education (PASSHE).

“We’re approaching 450 days since our contract expired. We’ve been working those 450 days because we care about our students, we love our jobs, and we want to keep on doing it, but at some point you have to be willing to make a stand, otherwise when will things ever change?” asked APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash.

The union has not yet set an official strike date, but upon committee approval the strike can be scheduled.

APSCUF will continue to have contract negotiation meetings with PASSHE. 

“There are big quality issues for us. When you’re in negotiation, you don’t simply look at one element of things, so we’re open to discussing various different things,” said Mash.

One of the biggest issues has been health care, which was one of the main topics of concern at APSCUF and PASSHE’s Sept. 8 negotiation meeting.

“There’s a lot of issues on the table. It’s [health care] just one piece in a very big puzzle,” said Mash.

He continued: “I don’t think anyone doubts that health care costs have generally gone up. We understand that health care costs go up, which is why you have conversations about these things.”

 Media relations manager for PASSHE, Kenn Marshall, also commented on health care, stating, “I think everybody understands that health care costs have been increasing dramatically in recent years. We are looking at ways the system can control those costs.”

However, no final agreement regarding the health care proposal was met during the union and state system’s last negotiation meeting.

The state system’s current health care proposal (found on page 2, graphic provided by APSCUF) suggests a $1,000 to $2,000 out-of-pocket limit increase, a $250 to $500 deductible change, and a $650 increase for union members who manage Type 2 Diabetes.

“Their [PASSHE’s] compromise is to provide faculty with a one-time payment of $600 as compensation for the increased health care costs,” said Edinboro University’s chapter spokesperson Dr. Jim Wertz.

Along with health care, there are a number of other contract issues being debated. These include changes for temporary faculty, who potentially face what APSCUF refers to as a “20 percent salary cut,” the cutting of funding for faculty research, and the implementation of more teaching associates.

“Now they [PASSHE] want to say it’s not just those advanced doctoral students who’d be able to do that [serve as a teaching associate], [but] students who have not yet even gotten their masters degrees. That goes to the quality of what we do,” said Mash.

With multiple issues still being debated and the scheduling of a strike day in the works, APSCUF and PASSHE will meet again to negotiate on Sept. 16.

“At every session we talk about various issues, in hopes of working toward an agreement, toward a new contract,” said Marshall.

In APSCUF’s most recent news release, Mash addressed the seriousness of the situation, saying:  “The vast majority of faculty clearly grasp the seriousness of the situation. Chancellor Frank Brogan and the State System need to get serious very quickly.” 

For more information regarding APSCUF and PASSHE’s contract negotiations, and updates on the strike date, students and community members can visit edinboronow.com.

Macala Leigey is the news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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