For the first time in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE)’s 34-year history, the faculty has commenced a strike at all 14 state-owned universities.
“At 11:35 p.m., we made a last attempt to negotiate through back channels,” Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said in a statement. “We waited until 5 a.m. We are headed to the picket lines, but even on the picket lines, our phones will be on, should the State System decide it doesn’t want to abandon its students. They’ll know where to find me at 5:30 a.m. I’ll be outside the chancellor’s office at the Dixon Center on the picket line.”
Until the State System negotiates a contract APSCUF believes is fair, faculty members will be on strike, and they started at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19. The strike will end when negotiators reach a contract.
“We offered a wage package substantially smaller than other state employees, by a factor of $31 million for a bargaining unit of more than 5,000,” said Mash. “We accepted dramatic reductions in our healthcare coverage and accepted proposals to shift millions of dollars in healthcare costs to our members but concessions in excess of $50 million was simply not enough for a chancellor who never once appeared at negotiations and whose team walked out of bargaining many hours before the strike deadline. His behavior was irresponsible and dismissive of the needs and interests of more than 100,000 students.”
The faculty contract expired on June 30, 2015, and negotiations have been ongoing since late 2014.
At West Chester, professors began picketing at 5 a.m. outside of the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall. Throughout the strike duration, professors will be picketing outside of Asplundh, along High Street, outside of Sykes Student Union, and seven other sites across campus.
All morning, APSCUF has been encouraging PASSHE to come back to the negotiation table.
APSCUF represents about 5,500 faculty and coaches at the State System universities: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania.
Sunny Morgan is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at SM848270@wcupa.edu. Her Twitter is @SunnyMorgan97.