During the early weeks of the fall semester, APSCUF members at the fourteen state-owned universities that make up the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education will vote whether or not to authorize a strike. Faculty union representatives from all of the PASSHE universities unanimously approved the action during conference call this morning.
According to APSCUF’s press release today, the next step will come Sept. 7–9 when APSCUF faculty members at each of Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities will participate in a strike-authorization vote. In addition to today’s faculty vote. Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties coaches will participate in a strike-authorization vote Sept. 14–15, after APSCUF’s Executive Council approved a request by the coaches’ leadership.
“Our faculty and coaches clearly feel that the State System has not negotiated fairly; they are more interested in playing games than negotiating seriously,” APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said. “It is completely unfair to our students for the State System to continue to drag this process out. Eventually, there will be a contract. We don’t know what the State System gains by continually creating distractions.”
“The State System wants to have graduate students teach, increase the use of temporary faculty, force students into distance-education courses, and cut the pay for those at the very bottom of the pay scale,” Mash said, “We will, if the System gives us no other option, stand up for our students, our universities, and ourselves.”
Amanda Morris, president of the Kutztown University chapter of APSCUF was on today’s call and spoke to me following the vote. “We are fighting to preserve quality in public higher education in the state of Pennsylvania,” she said. “We have been waiting to talk about the big issues at stake in the contract. We’ve been more than patient.”
Over the summer, faculty union members have been slowly preparing for today’s vote and the possibility of a job action this fall. APSCUF members at Kutztown University, for example, have held weekly organizing meetings since June to update members on the status of negotiations and to plan actions for the fall.
As students arrive on Kutztown’s campus this Saturday for “Move-In Day,” APSCUF members will be on hand to greet students and their families and to discuss the on-going negotiations. Similar events are being held on other PASSHE campuses.
Raging Chicken will continue to follow this story closely. Stay tuned.