The majority of faculty and coach members of the APSCUF voted in favor of a strike in separate votes. In the latest vote, 94% out of the 97% of coaches who voted said they agreed with a strike authorization. Coach Executive Leader John Gump issued the following statement in a news release the APSCUF issued on September 16th, “The message of today’s vote is a simple one: We do not want to strike, but we won’t allow a large part of our membership to be put in financial peril… A more than 200 percent increase in cost to pay for a healthcare plan that delivers less to many of our members and their families is unacceptable, and we stand together to say the State System has to do better.”
According to the APSCUF website, faculty and coaches have been without a contract for 449 days. Although a strike date has not been set yet, the APSCUF says they have yet to agree on a new contract. According to the APSCUF in a September 20th news release, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has been negotiating a contract with the APSCUF over the past several days. During the meeting on September 20th, the APSCUF requested that the State System enter binding arbitration. If this happens, a panel of three people would be able to resolve any issues with the contract. They are scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, September 21st.
President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash issued the following statement on September 20th, “We believe our strike-authorization vote sparked the marathon contract negotiations that began last week and that continue today and tomorrow… It’s unfortunate that we needed to take that step to prompt any action; we want to reach a conclusion.”
Mash went on to state the following, “However, the State System’s request for fact-finding sends a mixed message. The practical effect of this tactic will likely be to delay the process for a month, since it is not binding on either party. Fact-finding ends a contract dispute in only about 25 percent of cases, but binding arbitration is effective in 100 percent of the cases in which it is agreed to. We believe our students want this over as soon as possible, and we hope the State System will agree to the binding-arbitration process that will allow everyone to focus on our students.”
The APSCUF says it does not agree with the following measures proposed by the State System: Halting funding for professional development and faculty research; increasing the use of temporary faculty instead of permanent faculty; decreasing the pay of the lowest-paid faculty members by 20%; letting students who have few graduate credits teach courses; letting university presidents have independent authority to transfer faculty members to other departments; and making on-campus students go to distance education sections.
There are approximately 5,500 faculty members of the APSCUF which includes faculty and coaches at Mansfield University and 13 other State System universities.