By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Professors at Pennsylvania’s state colleges won’t go on strike this semester.
Instead, they’ll continue to bargain with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education throughout December. Both sides say they want to reach a “fair” contract, after nearly two years of disagreements.
This week, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties announced it would put off any consideration of a strike until the spring semester. APSCUF’s announcement comes shortly after the membership voted in favor of a strike authorization, which would allow negotiators to call a strike if deemed necessary.
Points of conflict between the parties include pay rates for temporary faculty members, health benefits and compensation for online courses.
Ken Mash, vice president of the APSCUF, said that members do not want to disrupt students’ education. A potential strike was a growing concern with finals and mid-year graduations approaching, Mash said.
“Our goal is not to be harmful to students, our goal is to get a fair contract,” he said.
PASSHE has said that it is offering APSCUF similar concessions to other unions. Officials announced the most recent proposal on Nov. 9. Changes included a switch to different health care plan and a freeze in pay for temporary workers.
Mash said APSCUF won’t agree to a contract that doesn’t treat employees equally. The state is asking for different concessions than it did with other unions, he said.
Now, union negotiators will bring another contract proposal to the state in another round of meetings. The next is scheduled for Dec. 11.
“We’re going to hope that with this new proposal that we give them, we could quickly come to a resolution,” Mash said.
Kenn Marshall, the media relations manager for PASSHE, said in an email that PASSHE is committed to achieving an agreement with APSCUF, just as it did with six other labor unions.
He, too, said the agreement needs to be fair.
“It is certainly good news for our students that the faculty union has chosen not to disrupt the fall semester by going on strike, but we still need to reach a resolution that is fair to everyone, especially to our students,” Marshall said.