The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Facilities (APSCUF), led by President Kenneth Mash, has made it clear that contract negotiations in Harrisburg have not gone as intended.
The union, which includes the greater majority of teachers and faculty at West Chester University, will go on strike if a new agreement is not reached before Oct. 19.
In the case of a strike, all 14 state schools in Pennsylvania will effectively be shut down until the situation is resolved.
Though the union was formed in 1937, this would be the first strike carried out by APSCUF and its supporting members. According to supporting professors at WCU, that’s something they’d like to avoid because of the effect it would have on the student body.
In an interview with Dr. Edward Lordan, a professor of Communication Studies and Public Relations, he discussed the breakdown of negotiations that came about due to the current contracts deficiencies in how classes are structured and run, as well as how many classes teachers are required to teach.
According to Lordan, Harrisburg will mandate an increase in class size by three to five students for each class.
That increase in class size would be across the board, and with the suggested class load being increased to five, that teacher just took on between 15 to 20 new students. That would call for additional classes, which can only affect the education that the student body receives in a negative way.
Another major issue is the working conditions the teachers and faculty have to endure while on campus.
One teacher, who asked to remain unnamed, said fixing the situation would be as simple as fixing the leak that’s been in her office. The leak is so bad that she has to “keep a garbage can on [her] desk to catch the constant drip from the ceiling in Main Hall.”
One of the key concerns that Lordan addressed was the concept that the state would be quick to reach across the picket line to fill the void left by the regular teachers by substitutes, as is the case in lower public schools. He stated that this, more than likely, wouldn’t be the case.
Lordan also made the intentions of the teacher’s union very clear, saying, “The first concern is for the welfare and the education of the student body. We obviously don’t want a strike, but if we’re forced to, we will strike. In the end, a strike doesn’t actually help anybody, it just forces the two sides to come to a reasonable agreement, faster.”
Considering the current political climate and the presidential election at our doorstep, it’s easy to overlook issues like this until they’re already knocking down our door.
If you’re interested in learning more about APSCUF, you can call them at 1-800-932-0587, or contact Dr. Lordan at ELordan@wcupa.edu.
Ryan Wasser is a fifth-year student majoring in English writings track. He can be reached at RW851045@wcupa.edu.