Whoever said no news is good news?After nine months members of the State College and University Professionals Association, SCUPA, are still waiting for a negotiation of contracts from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, PASSHE.
PASSHE has demanded that SCUPA members have an article included in their contracts that would permit outsourcing of jobs. This article would allow universities to hire those with little experience to replace SCUPA members, as long as they give the SCUPA member 48 hours notice and if it is time expedient or cost effective to hire outside the SCUPA team.
If this article is adapted, the interests of students, faculty, and alumni would be compromised. This would cause universities to lose control over the processes that are contracted out and who they are contracted to. It would also mean that outside contractors would most likely not be long-term professionals who have the knowledge and experience that SCUPA members have. This article is something that SCUPA members have refused to accept as a part of their contracts and are still patiently waiting for further negotiations.
On April 7 at Clarion University, Chancellor Judy Hample was meeting to tour the campus and attend a conference. SCUPA members were asked by union leadership to attend a silent protest at Clarion to show Hample how lack of contract is affecting them. West Chester SCUPA members took a different approach. Instead of making a 12 hour round trip to Clarion University, SCUPA members on campus decided to make their presence known. They chose to work.
On that Thursday our SCUPA representatives chose to serve our campus. Members did a multitude of activities that day, including meeting with students and faculty, updating plans for a new open house program and hosting informational events.
Phil Tripp, Assistant Director for the Career Development Center and president of SCUPA on campus, said, “Instead of driving 12 hours to represent my lack of contract, I chose to serve the people who attend our state universities.” Those SCUPA members who did attend Clarion University were met with locked doors and armed security guards. Even though the protest was silent, none of the 150 picketers were allowed in the building where the conference was taking place.
After the conference was over the protestors decided to position themselves behind a student building on the Clarion campus where trustee members would be sure to see them partake in their silent protest. Hample, however, who is one of the main driving forces behind the controversial outsourcing article, refused to walk in front of the picketers.
Educational handouts were also given out on Clarion campus to help spread factual information about SCUPA and their plight. Even though SCUPA members are still waiting for contracts they refuse to be anything except the professionals that they are. Tripp said, “I will continue to work professionally for the people whom I serve, the students and community at my university.
That is the intrinsic reward that compensates me more than any clause that is contained in any contract.