After postponing the official announcement from APSCUF President William E. Fulmer until Friday, Feb. 6, the union agreed to a tentative contract settlement. The new four-year contract was made possible partially due to in-tervention from Gov. Edward Rendell.The contract, which comes as a relief after eight months of negotiations, was reached with the help of Rendell’s labor representative, Ken Jarin, who was asked to mediate between SSHE and APSCUF. In Friday’s press conference, held in Harrisburg, Fulmer stated, “APSCUF thanks Governor Rendell for his intervention, without which the likelihood of a strike in August would have approached a certainty.”
Fulmer said, “at this stage, our negotiations team has proposed a settlement that includes acceptance of a salary package and health care provisions that parallel those recently accepted by AFSCME and the State.”
He went on to say, “it is a bare bones’ settlement which does include some language to protect the integrity of our programs, and which apparently does have the acceptance of the state system.”
Quality issues and professional integrity have been at the heart of negotiations for the faculty throughout the entire negotiations ordeal. One of the main issues, class size, will continue to be discussed. Fulmer noted, “We especially appreciate Governor Rendell’s willingness to help us seek class size controls through other venues. This is an important academic quality issue for both faculty members and students.”
Student welfare has been among the top concerns for both APSCUF and the State. Fulmer addressed the matter by saying, “seniors in their final semester have worried that they would not graduate on time. We, the faculty, are committed to our students and want them to know right now that the spring semester will proceed on schedule and will finish on time.”
There are still several steps to getting the contract approved and in place. The negotiation team will present their recommendation to the Executive Council on Feb. 19 where it will need to be approved. Acting team chair William Chabala said that, “we will give a fair and faithful presentation of this agreement to faculty with a recommendation that this is the best agreement we are able to reach in the present circumstances.”
From the Executive Council, the recommendation will be passed to the leadership Assembly, which has its next meeting in Altoona on Feb. 20 and 21. If passed, the full mem-bership will then have a chance to vote on the settlement.
“If the APSCUF membership approves the settlement, the State System’s Board of Governors will likewise vote on it. So, there are several steps to the process yet ahead,” Fulmer explained.