Today the PASSHE Board of Governors unanimously approved ratification of both tentative contract agreements with APSCUF faculty and coaches. It was a long, challenging negotiations process, but APSCUF and PASSHE reached agreements that were fair to faculty, coaches, and students.
Both negotiations teams and the negotiations committee appreciate the overwhelming support from faculty and coaches during the process and the strong showing of solidarity at the PASSHE Board of Governors meeting in January. Because of our collective efforts, we were able to settle contracts with the State System that preserve quality public higher education for our students.
Today faculty members belonging to the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) ratified a tentative contract agreement between APSCUF and the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
Over 95 percent of the faculty who voted supported the ratification. A simple majority vote was needed to ratify the contract.
“Faculty members at our universities are dedicated to providing students with a high quality education. The overwhelming support for this agreement illustrates the commitment our faculty have to our students and our institutions,” said Dr. Steve Hicks, president of APSCUF. “This is a balanced contract that preserves and maintains quality public higher education in the Commonwealth.”
Below is the text of a press release announcing the approval of the new contract between APSCUF coaches and PASSHE:
Today the coaches at the 14 state-owned universities approved a new contract with the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). The contract would cover 400 coaches represented by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF).
Over 97 percent of the coaches who voted approved ratification of the contract. The PASSHE Board of Governors must also vote on the agreement.
Monday evening the negotiations committee of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) unanimously approved a tentative contract agreement with the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
The four-year deal mirrors the agreements reached by Governor Corbett and the other statewide unions. In addition to a compensation package that is similar to the statewide pattern, the tentative agreement contains changes to the health care plan, including increased co-pays for office visits, emergency room visits, and prescription medications. The specific details of the agreement will be released after the ratification process is complete.
Early Sunday morning after two full days of negotiating, APSCUF and the State System of Higher Education reached a framework of an agreement for faculty.
The general framework largely mirrors the agreements reached by Governor Corbett and the other statewide unions.
Because this is a framework, APSCUF will not be releasing a public statement until the Negotiations Committee votes on the proposal Monday evening.
Today, the steering committee of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE), which represents hundreds of thousands of faculty across the country, approved the following resolution of support for APSCUF.
The campaign is composed only of groups who have agreed to the organization’s principles (referenced in the resolution below); their support via this resolution is a recognition that what we are struggling for in Pennsylvania is very much national (if not universal): quality education for students, with access to it for all, and quality working conditions for the faculty who provide that education. Our struggle is their struggle.
APSCUF and PASSHE negotiators met January 16 for approximately six hours. The parties exchanged proposals involving distance education and both active and retiree health care, but did not reach any agreements. There were also substantive discussions concerning curriculum and class size. The session concluded when the Chancellor's team suggested that it will provide APSCUF with a new comprehensive proposal before the next scheduled negotiation session on February 1. Given the current status of talks and the distance between the parties on key issues, APSCUF is planning for faculty to attend the PASSHE Board of Governors meeting on January 24. Faculty from all 14 of the state-owned universities intend to show their support for their negotiations team and to express disappointment with PASSHE's unwillingness to conclude an agreement after two years of discussions.
APSCUF and PASSHE negotiators met for six hours on Friday, January 4, 2013. The meeting was marked by several long breaks as the APSCUF team waited for the Chancellor's representatives to present counter proposals. There was some important progress; most notably PASSHE took its proposal for a temporary faculty salary freeze off the table. Active and retiree health care and distance education remain topics where there are still significant divides. PASSHE has not yet negotiated a health care package design with any of its employees not in the Pennsylvania Employees Benefit Trust Fund, and it falls to APSCUF to negotiate this benefit. The parties meet again January 11. Meanwhile, the faculty continue to prepare for collective action should it be necessary to obtain a fair contract.
On December 11, the APSCUF negotiations team met with the Chancellor’s representatives for the first time since the faculty at PASSHE’s fourteen universities overwhelmingly voted to authorize their leadership to call a strike. APSCUF negotiators had met internally to prepare a new comprehensive proposal, which was shared with the Chancellor’s team five days before the joint meeting. That proposal contained hundreds of thousands of dollars in concessions, withdrew some proposals, and adjusted several more. Despite the lead time, the Chancellor’s representatives were not prepared with a substantive response or counterproposal.
“The Chancellor and his employees keep telling our students and the public that they want to settle a fair contract,” said Steve Hicks, President of APSCUF, “but actions speak louder than words. Today was typical of previous negotiations sessions. We give them a proposal, and they need to wait to respond. They give us a proposal, we respond at the table, and they cannot counter. One can only wonder whether PASSHE is more interested in saying they are meeting than settling. Sheesh! They were ready to schedule meetings all the way into February.”
Another negotiations session is scheduled for next Wednesday, December 19, and two more dates were added in January.
“Our students deserve for both parties to be serious about reaching a resolution. Sadly, there is no indication that the Chancellor is equally committed to the collective bargaining process," Hicks added. "We will return to the table and hope things get serious. Otherwise they will force us to escalate preparations for collective action.”
On Friday, PASSHE put out this statement about negotiations. Then they sent it to EVERYONE on campus Monday morning, which so happens to be the first day APSCUF was holding a strike authorization vote. It is clearly mere coincidence that they chose that timing to put out their first public elucidation of their negotiations offer to APSCUF.
To be fair, it could have been spun a lot more than it is. Yet, there are certain parts they forgot, or didn’t highlight, so we thought it’d be valuable to see OUR side of the story: