Faculty association contract approved, begins fall 2020

Category:  News
Wednesday, February 12th, 2020 at 9:43 PM

After months of negotiations, the Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (BOG/PASSHE) unanimously approved the Association of Pennsylvania State and University Faculties (APSCUF) contract on Dec. 11. It was the last step needed to put the contract into motion. 

APSCUF first ratified the contract in June 2019. The Edinboro chapter of APSCUF also voted unanimously in approval of the contract, which will be in place until 2023. 

According to the Edinboro APSCUF interim president, Victoria Hedderick, the extended negotiation period between APSCUF and the BOG was because of a new negotiation tactic that the two organizations were using. 

“Typically when a contract negotiation occurs, there is one side and then the other side. One side writes what they are willing to do, and then they take it (to the other party), and go back and forth. This [time] they used a different process, where instead of sitting at opposite ends of the table, they sat together. It was literally an APSCUF member, an administration member (from the BOG) and they sat unified. 

Hedderick continued: “Each group came with some general things, and they would put it out on the table and then just discuss it as a whole. It was more of a collaborative experience…a lot of the credit [for the success] goes to the chancellor, because this is his style — more of a shared governance philosophy.” 

PASSHE Chancellor Dr. Dan Greenstein, in an APSCUF press release, said, “Our universities and students are poised for success during the next four years because of these new contracts.” 

“I want to thank APSCUF and SCUPA’s leadership teams for their parts in what proved to ultimately be successful teamwork, and I look forward to what we all achieve together during the next four years.” 

SCUPA stands for the State College and University Professional Association.

In that same press release, APSCUF President Dr. Ken Mash said, “I appreciate the involvement of the board chair and the chancellor, and we hope that this cooperative relationship inspires the Commonwealth’s policymakers to adequately fund the State System.”

The new contract includes no pay increase for the 2019-2020 academic year, with step increases set to start in the Fall of 2020. 

Aside from pay, changes fall under faculty scholarship development, as well as opportunities for faculty to respond to student demand. 

“One of the things that I, as a faculty member, am excited about is the multi-year appointments for temporaries,” Hedderick said. 

“We have tenure track faculty, and then we have temporaries who are faculty that will help meet the course schedule. Some of our temporaries have been here for years...we all recognize that not only for the faculty running the department, but also for the students, that it is nice to have consistency. Historically, those temporaries would be hired, and their letter of agreement would start the week of classes and then run through the end of classes.

“Then faculty would vote (at the end of the academic year) if we need a rehire and administration would approve it. There were times, however, when the administration would be quick and that person would know in May whether they were coming back, but some years people didn’t know as of July. Now, this contract allows for multi-year appointments for faculty.” 

According to Hedderick, this change allows that department to be upfront with faculty and sign a two-, three- or multi-year contract with a temporary faculty member. 

“This is exciting for us as a university...because now there is consistency. This is a win-win for the students, faculty and for the university,” she said. 

Another point in the contract related to retrenchment (being laid off). 

Hedderick said that the contract now allows for a retrenched faculty member to be hired at another PASSHE school. “This is encouraging for the faculty member, but of course there might be difficulty depending on location, etc.”

She added, “So far, the administration here at Edinboro has recognized that, yes, there will be changes, and we all know that; we need to change things from a financial perspective, but they have continually said ‘no retrenchment.’ Current President Huang has been saying the same thing and we are encouraged by that.” 

The final major point that Hedderick highlighted was stipulations in regard to professional development. For faculty this usually means attending academic conferences and presenting research.

“Unfortunately, with a lot of the money crunches we’ve had lately, funds to do those types of things (attend conferences, perform research) have not been as available.”

“Personally, I have to attend a certain amount of conferences and continuing education classes to keep up with my license, and that comes out of my personal budget. Departments are given a very nominal amount and when you divide it among 21 people, it’s not substantial.” 

According to Hedderick, at Edinboro there is discussion regarding how funds for professional development are being spread, with some attention being given to the possibility of the university funding not the department as a whole, but granting funds to individual faculty members. 

Coaching contract

As APSCUF faculty negotiated with the BOG, athletic coaching union members met to draft a tentative four-year agreement. Over the course of voting sessions, which occurred Feb. 3-4, 98% of voting members approved the deal. 

The tentative four-year contract has been sent to the BOG for approval. 

“At the end of the day, there is always talk about the salaries and the benefits, but we know that those have to increase at some point. What’s really exciting about this contract is that it addresses the students and the organization as a whole,” Hedderick said. 

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