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  • Delegates Send Strike Authorization Vote To Members At Public Pennsylvania Universities (extended)
    Posted On: Aug 28, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, August 29, 2016

    Union delegates representing 5500 faculty and coaches at Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities have voted unanimously to move forward with a strike-authorization vote of their members on all fourteen campuses in September.  Without a contract for the last 14 months, the union’s legislative assembly made the decision in an emergency conference call Thursday morning.  Kenneth Mash is President of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties:

    [Kenneth Mash]: “We’re still galaxies apart, and we’ve been at the negotiations table for sixteen months.  Some of the things that are really sticking points come down to issues of preserving the quality of education that we provide.  There’s proposals on the table right now [from the state system of higher education] that would call for an expanded use of graduate students to teach classes, expanded use of adjunct faculty to teach classes, and even a proposal that would encourage the use of distance-education courses, even for our students who are resident on the campuses.”

    Mash says there are also issues concerning salary and health care:

    [Kenneth Mash]: “They put a proposal on the table for wages.  It would have been zero for last year, zero for this year, one percent halfway through the following year, and another one percent through the next year.  And they did this after they, themselves, thousands of dollars in increases.”

    As in many other states, higher education is suffering at the hands of a prolonged state budget battle.  Setting a state record for the longest budget standoff, only Illinois has gone longer without a budget for 2015:

    [Kenneth Mash]: “Pennsylvania is languishing near the bottom of the states as far as funding for public higher education.  You can’t continuously raise tuition, raise fees on students, and also try, then to hurt the quality of education that you’re giving to them, and also balance your books off of the faculty that works there, and expect that you’re going to be able to maintain quality institutions.  And, of course, there are long-term ramifications for not educating your populace properly over the long haul.”

    Mash says the administration’s goal seems to be to balance the books on the backs of not only the workers, but also the students:

    [Kenneth Mash]: “We don’t lose sight of the fact that our students come primarily from working class families and they’re struggling, but the solution always seems to be to try and raise tuition, raise fees, make cuts to health care, make cuts to salary.  They have a proposal on the table to reduce salaries for our adjunct faculty, the ones who are in the most precarious positions, but 20 percent.  That’s the path that they’re taking instead of really making the case in front of the legislature that we need increased funds in order to be able to support these institutions.”

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