EU faculty union threatens to strike if changes aren't made

Category:  News
Thursday, April 21st, 2016 at 10:44 AM
EU faculty union threatens to strike if changes aren't made by Macala Leigey

“We’re like five steps away from a strike. But it was the first step,” said Edinboro University chapter president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties (APSCUF) Dr. Jean Jones.

At APSCUF’s latest legislature assembly meeting, delegates from all of the statewide universities represented by APSCUF authorized the Pennsylvania union president, Dr. Ken Mash, to enforce a strike vote on campus.

“Initially, all we were saying was that Dr. Mash, could effectively have all the members vote on a strike. If the members all vote yes, then he could... call a strike,” said Jones.

The union’s motivation to authorize a strike vote branched from the issue of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), not renewing or instating a new contract for the APSCUF members.

“We’ve [APSCUF members] been now working without a contract since last June, and there’s been very little progress made in the negotiations. We can’t just go on this way forever, we got to move forward with this and get a contract,” said Jones.

Edinboro University chapter representative of ASPCUF Dr. Jim Wertz added to Jones’ statement, by saying, “The administration at the state system refuses to negotiate with APSCUF.”

“Other public sector unions that work with the state system have all been offered one year extensions of their contracts or have all negotiated one year contracts. We’re the only union within the state system that has not negotiated a settlement with the state system.”

Wertz also shared that part of the issue is linked to the state budget.

“Part of the reason is because of the state budget, the fact that we didn’t have a state budget for nine months after we were supposed to. There’s really no reason we can’t sit down and negotiate an extension. It’s one thing if the appropriations aren’t there, it’s another not to talk about it.”

Without a new contract instated, or an official extension of the old contract, faculty operate under the same conditions outlined in their current contract.

“We’re still under our current contract,” said Associate Director of Communications for APSCUF Kathryn Morton.

Morton also shared what must be done to prevent a union strike.

“We need the state system to negotiate in good faith and reach a fair contract. Once we have a contract there’s no need to discuss the strike any further.”

On top of running without a renewed contract, Jones contributed part of the union’s reasoning for a strike vote authorization to a testimony the Chancellor of PASSHE gave at a recent budget committee meeting.

“The way he [Chancellor of PASSHE] spoke about APSCUF and faculty was pretty disrespectful, and the facts were not always accurate. It was just really disrespectful,” said Jones.

However, after a nearly two hour, “really strong” debate, APSCUF union members decided to postpone the strike vote until September.

“The only thing that postponed it was we care about our students. Our students have been through too much this year, with the state-wide budget and not knowing if the schools were going to be funded,” said Jones.

Morton added to that by saying, “The faculty members just wanted to make sure that the students weren’t disrupted any more than they already have been this year.”

Morton also shared that the last negotiation meeting held between APSCUF and PASSHE was Jan. 8. The next contract negotiation meeting will be held April 28, with two dates set aside in June if another negotiation meeting is necessary.

“We’re hoping that things get done at the coming meeting.”

Students are encouraged to voice their concerns and stay up-to-date with APSCUF news by following the APSCUF Twitter account or visiting the organization’s Facebook page.

Macala Legiey is the News Editor for The Spectator and she can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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