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State system faculty union holds off on strike consideration until semester ends

27 November 2012 No Comment

By AMBER SOUTH
@ShipNewsGirl

Students at Shippensburg University and other state universities were assured Tuesday that the current semester will not be interrupted by a faculty strike.

In a letter to students, Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty President Stephen Hicks said the decision to postpone strike consideration until the end of the semester was made in the interest of students.

“We know you are concerned about the impact a strike would have on your classes, your finals, and your tuition dollars,” he wrote.

In the face of faltering contract negotiations between APSCUF and PASSHE, the majority of the approximately 6,000 faculty in the 14 schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education voted two weeks ago to approve a strike authorization.

The move gave union leaders the ability to call a strike should negotiations reach an insurmountable point, said Brendan Finucane, president of SU’s APSCUF chapter.

When voting began Nov. 14, Finucane said it was unlikely a strike would happen anyway. APSCUF and PASSHE have a history of contract negotiation disagreement, and APSCUF has threatened a strike several times in the past to motivate PASSHE into an agreement, Finucane said.

Faculty have been working without a current contract since June 2011. Negotiations between the state system and faculty union have been underway ever since, yet a number of discrepancies remain.

According to Hicks’ letter, these include a separate pay scale for some temporary faculty, an increase in payments for reduced health care benefits, a cut to retirement health care and stopping those benefits for new faculty, and funding changes to distance education.

“All of the outstanding issues have a direct effect on the quality of education we provide, as all will impact who is in the classroom and the type of classes that are offered,” Hicks wrote in the letter.

In a statement released Nov. 16 in response to the strike authorization vote results, PASSHE stated, “We have a fair offer on the table and hope to reach a settlement with APSCUF very soon.”

For Hick’s full letter, click here.

For more on PASSHE’s contract proposals, click here.

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