Faculty gears up for strike vote

Clarion, Pa.- The PASSHE (Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education) system’s teacher faculty union APSCUF (Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties) will be conducting a vote among its faculty members yesterday, Sept. 7, today and Friday as to whether authorize a strike.

If APSCUF members were to vote yes, it would allow the APSCUF leadership to call a strike if they decide it to be necessary in the future. The strike authorization vote comes during slow contract negotiations between PASSHE and APSCUF as the two organizations work on an agreement for their contract after their previous contract ended on June 30, 2015.

A Clarion faculty member places a vote for a strike authorization.
Kirsten Henderson / The Clarion Call A Clarion faculty member places a vote for a strike authorization.

In addition to working without a contract for many months, APSCUF stated that the PASSHE system wants to cut faculty wages and benefits, along with increasing the amount of courses adjunct professors teach while keeping their salaries the same. It also increases the amount of graduate students who teach courses who would replace full-time faculty members in some courses.

The contract between PASSHE and APSCUF covers all aspects of faculty employment, from wages to the amount of classes they teach and applies to all faculty members, whether they be tenured professors or adjunct professors.

The Clarion University APSCUF Representative Dr. Naomi Bell O’Neil stated that she believes that the vote is likely to pass. In addition, Dr. O’Neil stated that the “faculty cares about students and wants what is best for them,” and said that a better contract allows the university to hire better faculty who would provide the students with a higher quality experience.

If the strike were to be enacted, faculty members would not work and would not be paid, classes would not meet and faculty members would not academically advise students or advise Recognized Student Organizations on campus. Further contract negotiations are planned between APSCUF and PASSHE today.

Although these types of negotiations have been scarce in Pennsylvania state school history, every time strikes have been authorized in the past, they have not occurred according to Dr. Susanne Fenske, vice president for student affairs, leaving classes fully in session and faculty in the halls and classrooms.

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