For almost a year, members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) have been working under an expired contract. According to an APSCUF press release, the most recent negotiations session took place on Jan. 8, while the next session is set to occur on April 28.
However, on Friday, April 8, the APSCUF negotiation committee voted to move a strike-authorization vote to the floor of their legislative assembly session the next morning.
According to a press release from APSCUF, though, delegates at the assembly ultimately “determined they would not take a job action this academic year, which ends this May.”
“There was palpable outrage in the room, and for most of the debate, it seemed certain we would move toward a strike,” said Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, APSCUF’s president. “However, in the end, my colleagues believed that a strike at the very end of the semester would unfairly burden students and their families. Uncertainty about the budget and the complications of tuition increases have made this a very stressful semester for students. My colleagues wanted to make it clear that their frustration lies with the State System administration and not with the students.”
In the press release, Dr. Mash noted that “everyone has their limits, and it is clear the delegates are close to theirs.”
“If no progress is made soon, there will certainly be a job action in the future,” said Dr. Mash.
In an additional comment, Dr. Mark Rimple, president of the WCU union chapter, expressed a similar sentiment.
“Faculty are frustrated about the lack of respect shown by the [Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education] Chancellor [Frank Brogan] and the state’s negotiations team which has utterly failed to negotiate in good faith,” said Dr. Rimple. “The Chancellor and his team have decided to bypass the faculty and take their views on bargaining issues to the public through the Web and appropriations hearings instead of the negotiation table.”
Dr. Rimple made it clear in his comment that APSCUF has not given up.
“Now that we have a budget, we have radio silence from the system. While APSCUF has postponed a strike authorization for now, we are watching the negotiations process and the actions of Chancellor closely,” said Dr. Rimple. “We in the West Chester delegation are in solidarity with our colleagues across the state, who are ready to authorize a job action as soon is necessary.”
Dr. Cheryl Wanko, a professor in the Department of English, also went into detail as to why APSCUF members are upset with Brogan and PASSHE.
“There have been some things over the course of the year that have been problematic,” said Dr. Wanko. “We hadn’t been getting much from them in terms of negotiations, they hadn’t been putting any offers on the table… The other thing they were doing was anything we said on our side, they would immediately post on their website.”
Dr. Wanko continued that PASSHE was trying to negotiate through a public forum, which they did not consider to be “particularly fair.”
“If you have to fight it out in the court of public opinion, you might have other problems besides just trying to get your contract negotiated,” said Dr. Wanko.
Additionally, Dr. Wanko pointed out how the PASSHE Board of Governors is responsible for deciding on plans that affects students. Although the board is supposed to have three student members, Brogan did not nominate students for the position, and so the Board has made decisions over the past year without student representation.
According to the press release, neither the faculty nor the coaches at the State System universities have ever been on strike.
Casey Tobias is a second-year student majoring in women’s and gender studies and communication studies with minors in journalism and German. Contact them at CT822683@wcupa.edu @Casey__Tobias