Shippensburg University faculty voting this week on strike authorization
By AMBER SOUTH
Approximately 6,000 faculty from Shippensburg University and 13 other state universities are voting this week to allow faculty union officials to authorize a strike should contract negotiations with the state system continue to falter.
Starting Monday and continuing today and Wednesday, SU faculty are able to head over to the campus library to cast their ballots, said Brendan Finucane, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty’s SU chapter.
Voting is not mandatory, but high voter turnout is expected.
Once voting ends Wednesday, ballots from SU and its sister schools will go to Harrisburg and be counted Friday, Finucane said. If most votes affirm a strike authorization, then APSCUF chapter presidents at each of the 14 schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education will vote to strike, and 10 must approve it for it to actually happen.
But, according to Finucane, that will not happen until after two more negotiating sessions on Dec. 11 in Harrisburg and Dec. 19 in Philadelphia.
“No decision is made as to what to do with respect to the strike authorization vote until and if we reach an impasse at the negotiating table,” Finucane said.
Finucane said he expects the majority of faculty votes to support a strike authorization, which would follow the trend of strike authorization votes in past contract negotiations between APSCUF and PASSHE.
A strike authorization vote has become standard procedure in contract negotiations, as the union sees it as a way to get the state system more engaged when negotiations stall, Finucane said. That plan seems to be working out again this time around.
“On Friday morning (PASSHE) issued a new comprehensive proposal, which was still quite concessionary and it’s not yet acceptable to APSCUF, but it indicated that they needed to take some steps to try to affect the strike authorization vote,” Finucane said.
Negotiations also yielded the removal of a 35 percent pay cut for temporary faculty in exchange for the addition of no change in salary for full-time temporary faculty and freezing pay for part-time temporary faculty for the life of the contract, according to the Associated Press. Disagreements over health care benefits and online education also remain.
“I think people are focused on doing everything possible to avoid a strike which would be disruptive,” Finucane said.
Union members have been working without a contract since July 2011.
Amber South can be reached at email@example.com and 262-4771.