Seth Ickes – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) strike against the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) that lasted for three days, affecting all 14 state universities and halting education for all students in classes in which faculty members chose to strike, has resulted in a contract agreement between the two organizations.
This new contract between APSCUF and PASSHE is set to end on June 30, 2018, giving a three-year deal beginning in the summer of 2015 until contracts are once again up for renegotiations.
APSCUF detailed the tentative agreement, stating that “the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties accepted concessions to salary and benefits in exchange for eliminating most of the 249 changes the State System proposed.”
APSCUF officials reported they devoted a great deal of focus during negotiations to ensure that temporary faculty were treated fairly within the contract. Among the changes scrapped by PASSHE, detailed on the state system website, were the removal of requiring full-time temporary (commonly known as adjunct) faculty to teach five courses instead of four, increasing temporary faculty from 25 to 30 percent and the removal of the ability of the schools to transfer faculty to other departments without a secret ballot vote of the faculty.
APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth Mash stated on APSCUF’s website that the primary goals of the union “were to preserve quality education for our students, protect our adjuncts from exploitation, and make sure the varieties of faculty work are respected.”
On PASSHE’s website, it was stated that “among other things, the agreement would provide faculty with pay increases and would allow the State System to realize important healthcare cost savings.”
PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan referred to APSCUF’s acceptance of the tentative agreement as “an opportunity for a fresh start,” and “throughout this process, our students have been remarkably patient, and they should be applauded. Now, we look forward to making sure the rest of the year ends strong for them and our talented faculty.”
Mash also addressed other unions in the APSCUF press release, stating that the union was “overwhelmed and grateful for the support of our brothers and sisters at other unions.”
Mash also thanked the students who attend state system schools, saying: “Most of all, we thank our students. If any high school student is looking for a place to go to school, they should look at how much all our students supported their faculty. We have phenomenal students, and we are proud to be able to return to the classroom to supply the quality of public higher education they deserve.”
Specific details of the agreement will be released upon final approval, according to PASSHE’s Oct. 21 press release.