SSHE Union Sets Oct. 19 for Strike Date if No New Contract

news-breakHERSHEY – Faculty members will go on strike Oct. 19, unless the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education reach a contract agreement the union says will be fair to students and faculty. At a news conference today, APSCUF president Ken Mash, said the union will not strike if the State System negotiates a fair contract.

Mash, flanked by APSCUF members, announced the date in a press conference:  “The State System has asked for tens of millions more in concessions from faculty than they have from anyone else,” Mash said. “Faculty offered a major healthcare concession, but the State System did not change their offer. We sat with them for days, and they gave us a proposal that purposely went backward. They are intent on hurting educational quality, rewarding themselves while simultaneously cutting the salaries of our lowest-paid members by 20 percent, and balancing their books off the backs of their students and our faculty. We will not be a party to it.”

The State System did not agree to APSCUF’s proposal to enter binding arbitration, during which a three-person panel could conclude the contract dispute. Earlier this week, the State System sent APSCUF a formal announcement that it wants to undergo nonbinding fact-finding with a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board arbitrator. The board did not grant the State System’s request. APSCUF said it prefers binding arbitration because it would bring the entire matter to a conclusion, Mash said.

Meanwhile Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the state system, said a strike would run counter “to everything higher education stands for. We should be able to find a resolution through meaningful discussion, continued dialogue and reason. We can’t afford to stop meeting. This is too important to our students. We need to continue talking.”

In the past week, APSCUF’s negotiations team met five days with the State System. Today and tomorrow, the union said, APSCUF leadership and delegate members from all 14 State System campuses are meeting for the organization’s regularly scheduled legislative assembly in Harrisburg. When that concludes Saturday, a strike-training workshop will commence. APSCUF plans to resume talks with the State System in October, after these previously scheduled events. APSCUF is waiting for the State System to respond to the five dates the association offered to negotiate next.

The 14 state-owned schools include Lock Haven University.