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February 3, 2013 - PASSHE, APSCUF agree on framework for new faculty contract


Harrisburg - The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) have agreed to the framework for a new contract with the approximately 5,500 faculty at the 14 state-owned universities. More information will be made available as the ratification process continues.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 115,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.

The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and the Philadelphia Multi University Center in Philadelphia.



1/31 - PASSHE, APSCUF resume negotiations tomorrow

Harrisburg – Negotiations between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) resume tomorrow. PASSHE Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Labor Relations Gary Dent provided the following statement as the two sides prepare to meet:

“As we get set to return to the bargaining table tomorrow, we do so with a sense of cautious optimism that we are within reach of an agreement with APSCUF that is fair, that is affordable and that positions the System to continue to provide a quality education for years to come.

“PASSHE’s number one focus is protecting the interests of our students and their families who provide nearly three-fourths of the revenue needed to operate our universities. There is a limit to the amount of costs we can ask our students to absorb, especially in areas that are not directly related to the classroom.

“We have completed the compensation package portion of the agreement, which historically has been the last item in negotiations. There are, however, a small but significant number of issues yet to be resolved, including active and retiree healthcare, distance education and a new, optional plan for annuitant health care.

“As we have maintained throughout this more than two year process, increases in healthcare costs for both active and retired employees, combined with rapidly rising pension costs, are placing unsustainable financial pressure on the universities. In this regard, PASSHE is no different from the federal or state governments, or most other organizations, all of which have identified increasing costs in these areas as urgent problems that must be addressed. 
“As we resume our negotiations tomorrow, we remain optimistic that we will resolve these issues quickly and fairly so that we can get back to working together on what matters most – continuously enhancing the quality of education our students receive.”

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 115,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study.  Nearly 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.

The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center.


1/24 - PASSHE Board of Governors Chairman issues statement on contract negotiations with faculty union

Harrisburg – Guido M. Pichini, chairman of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's Board of Governors, commented today on the status of contract negotiations between the State System and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), the union that represents faculty at the 14 state-owned universities. Mr. Pichini made his remarks during the Board's regular quarterly meeting.

Below is Mr. Pichini's statement:

    "As we prepare collectively for the start of the spring semester, I feel it is imperative that I address the topic most on everyone's mind today – negotiations with our faculty union.

    "First, let me reinforce the Board of Governors' commitment to achieving a new collective bargaining agreement with APSCUF that is fair, that is affordable and that positions the State System to continue to provide a quality education to our students for years to come.

    "That has been our goal throughout this unprecedented process, during which we have negotiated with all of our unions in a single cycle. That has never happened before, and it has been extremely difficult.

    "However, as everyone in this room likely is aware, we have been successful in achieving that goal with all of our unions, with the exception of the APSCUF bargaining unit that represents our university faculty.

    "All of the agreements that have been reached to date have included an array of cost savings – in many cases, concessions – that have helped to offset the cost of wage and salary increases included in them.

    "I want to personally thank each of those unions – and, even more important, their members – for recognizing the enormous challenges facing the State System and for partnering with us to achieve this success. I truly believe the sacrifices you made were essential to the long-term stability of our universities.

    "All of us must remember why we are here – our students.

    "The simple fact is without the cost savings we already have achieved through the agreements we have reached to date – and the additional savings we are seeking through the negotiations with APSCUF – the ability of our universities to continue to offer quality, affordable education would be – and is – seriously threatened.

    "As difficult as these negotiations have been, we have been able to come to agreement with APSCUF on a number of very important issues, including wage and salary increases for virtually all faculty this year and in each of the next two years. Usually, that is the last area of agreement.

    "There are only a small number of issues that have yet to be resolved, but they are significant. We cannot continue to incur the kinds of cost increases we have been experiencing; we must have cost savings.

    "Healthcare represents an area where both cost savings and greater fairness to our employees can be achieved – and have been with our other unions.

    "PASSHE is seeking to more closely align its healthcare plan with the plan offered by the Commonwealth to nearly 80,000 state employees, including the Governor and his cabinet, as well as nearly one-third of all PASSHE employees.

    "We have stated this goal repeatedly throughout these negotiations, and have been completely transparent on this matter, even placing a side-by-side comparison of the two plans on our public website.

    "The unions representing both our university health center nurses and our campus police and security officers, whose members are covered by the PASSHE-run plan, have agreed to this concept; APSCUF continues to oppose it, without providing any response as to why this is not a reasonable request.

    "The changes we have proposed not only would help ensure that virtually all PASSHE employees – including non-represented managers, administrators and executives – would receive the same level of benefits, but also would result in lower premiums for everyone in the plan.

    "Most PASSHE employees covered by the plan – faculty, nurses, police and security officers and non-represented employees – pay either 15 percent or 25 percent of the total premium, depending on whether they participate in the System's wellness plan.

    "PASSHE currently pays more than $15,000 a year for family coverage under this plan, compared to $10,140 for family coverage under the Commonwealth's plan. We must address that disparity, and we can begin to do so while ensuring greater fairness for all of our employees.

    "We also must address the enormous financial obligation facing PASSHE in the area of annuitant healthcare, which, if allowed to continue unchecked, threatens the System's viability. That obligation currently stands in excess of $1.4 billion, nearly the equivalent of PASSHE's annual operating budget.

    "The Board of Governors has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the fiscal integrity of the System. The vast majority of our costs – nearly 75 percent – are borne by our students and their families. I believe there is a limit to the amount of costs we can ask our students to absorb, especially in areas that are not directly related to the classroom.

    "The change we have proposed in annuitant healthcare would begin to address these costs while providing future employees the option of choosing a defined contribution plan to cover their future healthcare expenses. Those employees – anyone hired after July 1, 2013 – still could choose the defined benefit plan, which currently is provided to all eligible retirees.

    "The employee would have a choice of either plan, similar to the choice they have now when selecting a pension plan. APSCUF opposes this proposed change too, even though it would impact only future employees, and would provide those employees an additional choice while taking nothing away.

    "These and other costs not related to the classroom are threatening to strip the universities of their ability to develop and offer the types of new programs students need – and even to maintain the ones they have now – and to modernize their academic facilities to ensure students receive the kinds of educational experiences necessary to assure their success.

    "We must resolve these issues quickly and fairly so that we can get back to working together on what matters most – continuously enhancing the quality of education our students receive."

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 115,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.

The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and the Philadelphia Multi University Center in Philadelphia.


1/21 - West Chester shares responses by PASSHE to potential faculty strike

The status of negotiations between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) has drawn increased attention from students and their families.

In light of that fact, West Chester University is sharing with the campus community recent updates by PASSHE regarding its negotiations with APSCUF. First and foremost, students should know that the universities have plans in place should a faculty strike occur. For the latest information on the status of negotiations students should visit http://www.wcupa.edu/Negotiations/.

Students and their families should also know that PASSHE is committed to achieving a new collective bargaining agreement with APSCUF that is fair, affordable and that positions the State System to continue to provide an affordable, quality education for years to come. PASSHE leadership has made it clear throughout these negotiations that its number one focus is representing the interests of students and their families who provide nearly three-fourths of the revenue needed to operate the universities.

PASSHE has put a very reasonable compensation package for faculty on the table while also making it clear that it needs savings to offset the increased costs to the universities and ultimately, to our students and their families. Two major cost drivers for our universities are the health care benefits we provide to both active and retired employees. If these aren’t addressed, these costs threaten to overwhelm the system and take away resources that could otherwise be used to improve and modernize our education offerings to ensure students succeed.

PASSHE has offered a number of health care plan options with the goal of more closely aligning the system with the same health care plan that the Commonwealth’s 80,000 employees – including the Governor and his cabinet – all have. The changes could result in lower premiums while ensuring that all PASSHE employees receive benefits comparable to those received by other state employees.

For future, not current, employees, PASSHE has proposed to offer an optional health care account similar to the current option available for a retirement account. The change, which would begin to address a more than $1.4 billion outstanding financial obligation in this area, would apply only to employees hired after July 1, 2013.

The bottom line is that PASSHE and APSCUF must resolve these issues quickly and fairly so that we can get back to focusing on how best to continuously enhance the quality of our academic programs as well as the educational experience of our students. There are far more important things for our students to be focused on when they return on January 28.


1/3 - PASSHE, APSCUF resume contract negotiations Friday

Negotiations between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) resume tomorrow. PASSHE Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Labor Relations Gary Dent provided the following statement as the two sides prepare to meet:

    “With the onset of the new year we are poised to return to the bargaining table, with the goal of reaching a settlement with our final bargaining unit, APSCUF. I thought it was important to provide a brief update on where things stand and discuss our path forward.

    “First and foremost, all of our stakeholders should know that PASSHE is committed to achieving a new collective bargaining agreement with APSCUF that is fair, that is affordable and that positions the System to continue to provide a quality education for years to come.

    “As we have in the agreements we have reached to date, our number one focus is protecting the interests of our students and their families who provide nearly three-fourths of the revenue needed to operate our universities. For PASSHE, that certainly means arriving at an economic package that permits us to remain competitive in our ability to recruit and retain talented faculty members; they are, after all, a critical element in PASSHE’s ability to provide a quality education.  But we also need to find solutions to our ever-increasing costs in certain areas, which, if not addressed, will threaten the financial viability of our System.  

    “Increases in healthcare costs for both active and retired employees, combined with rapidly rising pension costs, are placing unsustainable financial pressure on the universities. In this regard, PASSHE is no different from the federal or state governments, or most other organizations, all of which have identified increasing costs in these areas as urgent problems that must be addressed.  We have no alternative. We must agree to new approaches before these costs overwhelm the System.

    “PASSHE’s 14 universities are facing incredible and ever-increasing competition; business as usual is simply unacceptable. Throughout these negotiations with APSCUF, we have been open and transparent about the challenges we collectively face, particularly in an environment of declining state funding support and our families’ limited ability to absorb any tuition increases.

    “We are just now recovering from the worst economic environment since 1937, and higher education has not been immune to these challenges. Given the impact of the recession on the Commonwealth’s budget, PASSHE leadership is preparing to once again aggressively pursue state funding in the upcoming budget debate.”

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 115,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study.  Nearly 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.

The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center.

12/14 - PASSHE, APSCUF cancel bargaining session

The bargaining session scheduled for today between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) has been canceled by mutual agreement. The two sides plan to resume talks on January 4, with additional scheduled negotiations to follow.

“Our overriding concern, as it has been throughout these negotiations, is the cost to our students and their families,” said PASSHE Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Labor Relations Gary Dent. “Our students pay approximately 73 percent of the costs necessary to operate our universities through tuition and fees. Seventy-three cents of every $1 in increased costs resulting from this agreement would be borne by students and their families.

"We have made clear the essential elements we need in this agreement, which include cost savings to offset proposed salary increases; redesign of our health care plan to more closely align it with that offered to more than 80,000 state employees, including the Governor and his cabinet; and a plan to begin to address our annuitant health care costs. In its latest response, APSCUF rejected almost every element with the exception of levels of compensation."

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 115,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.

The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg.


12/14 - PASSHE, coaches reach tentative agreement on new contract Negotiations continue with faculty; SCUPA to begin ratification vote Monday

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the union representing athletic coaches at the 14 state-owned universities have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.

The coaches are represented by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), the same union that represents university faculty. Details of the tentative agreement, which would run through June 30, 2015, will be released upon its ratification.

The agreement, combined with a tentative agreement announced in late October with the State College and University Professional Association (SCUPA), means PASSHE has now successfully concluded negotiations with all of its bargaining units, with the exception of the unit representing faculty.

SCUPA represents approximately 600 admissions, financial aid, residence life and other student support services officers on the 14 PASSHE campuses. SCUPA members will begin voting Monday on whether to ratify its tentative agreement with PASSHE. The coaches likely will vote sometime in late January or early February.

PASSHE Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Labor Relations Gary Dent, speaking on behalf of the State System’s leadership, expressed his appreciation to the members of the coaches’ negotiating team for their willingness to reach a contract that is fair to both parties.



12/5 - PASSHE seeks to address cost savings, students' needs in final union talks
By Gary Dent, PASSHE Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Labor Relations

In successfully reaching agreements with six of our seven labor unions over the last approximately 15 months, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) sought both cost savings and the assurance that our students’ academic needs would be met into the future. Each of the unions recognized the enormous fiscal challenges facing the State System and partnered with us in achieving these goals.

We remain hopeful that we can secure that same level of cooperation with our final union, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), which represents our faculty. APSCUF’s most recent response was to ask its members to take a vote authorizing a strike.

As the person at PASSHE directly responsible for advising the Chancellor and Board of Governors on labor relations matters, I want to share publicly our goals in the unresolved negotiations with APSCUF.

Many of our students and their families have limited ability to absorb cost increases. As a result of overall declining state support over the past several years, students now provide almost three-fourths of the revenue necessary to operate the 14 PASSHE universities through tuition and fees. Any agreement with APSCUF must reflect that reality, as have the agreements reached with all of our other unions. In exchange for modest salary increases, each of those unions agreed to a variety of cost-saving measures, such as the elimination of shift differential and some overtime payments, reductions in sick leave and limits on the amount of annual leave employees can earn.

In explaining why his members were willing to accept some concessions, one PASSHE union leader said, “We weren’t happy about it, but, at the same time, our members were able to grasp what was occurring with the available funding. It was a balance we were willing to accept.”

Increases in healthcare costs for both active and retired employees, combined with rapidly rising pension costs, are placing unsustainable financial pressure on the universities. In this regard, PASSHE is no different from the federal or state governments, or most other organizations, all of which have identified increasing costs in these areas as urgent problems that must be addressed. We have no alternative. We must agree to new approaches before these costs overwhelm the System.

In our discussions with APSCUF, we have presented a number of proposals to redesign our healthcare plan, which would more closely align it with the plan offered by the Commonwealth to almost 80,000 state employees, including the Governor and his cabinet. This concept already has been agreed to by our other unions. The changes would result in lower premiums while ensuring that all PASSHE employees would receive benefits comparable to those received by other state employees.

The State System pays more than $15,000 annually for family coverage under the healthcare plan it administers for active employees, while the employer—either PASSHE or the state—pays $10,140 for coverage under the Commonwealth’s plan. The average employer cost for such coverage nationally is $11,429, according to the Kaiser Foundation, a leading source of healthcare information. It is obvious that we must address this disparity in cost.

We also have proposed to redesign our annuitant healthcare plan to essentially mirror the plan Pennsylvania State University began offering to its new employees two years ago. The change, which would begin to address a more than $1.4 billion outstanding financial obligation in this area, would apply only to employees hired after July 1, 2013.

We are committed to remaining competitive in our ability to recruit and retain both regular and temporary faculty. Part-time,  temporary faculty at a PASSHE university receive a minimum of $5,600 for teaching a three-credit course, more than double the national average. Within the state, Penn State University pays its part-time faculty from $4,000 to $4,500 per course while Temple University pays between $3,939 and $4,689.

PASSHE has proposed freezing salaries of part-time, temporary faculty at the current rate, while continuing to pay full-time, temporary faculty the same as regular faculty. Full-time, temporary faculty have essentially the same out-of-classroom responsibilities as regular—tenured and tenure-track—faculty, including advising students, serving on departmental and university committees and conducting scholarly research. Part-time faculty do not have these additional responsibilities. In articles that have appeared in various newspapers across the state, several APSCUF local chapter presidents have cited these differences in workload responsibilities.

Our universities need to reflect the changing reality of distance education. They must be able to ensure students are able to receive the courses they need in order to meet their degree requirements and to graduate, in the manner that best serves them, including via distance education when appropriate.

In recognition of the dramatic growth in distance education, we have proposed ending the incentive payments faculty receive for developing such courses, as well as the additional stipend they receive for each student who enrolls in them. Those incentives were first offered in 1999, when such courses were virtually non-existent at PASSHE universities. A plan to phase out the incentive payments was begun as part of the last APSCUF contract. Faculty do not receive additional payments or stipends for developing or offering traditional courses.

These issues all must be addressed in order to assure the long-term viability of the PASSHE universities and the continuation of the high-quality, affordable education they provide. To learn more about these negotiations and full details of PASSHE’s current proposal, go to www.passhe.edu.


11/16 - PASSHE's response to the vote results announced today by APSCUF

PASSHE released the following statement in response to the vote results announced today by APSCUF authorizing a possible strike by the faculty union:

"We remain committed to achieving an agreement with our faculty union that is fair to everyone, especially to our students and their families who provide almost 75 percent of the revenue necessary to operate our universities through tuition and fees. We have a fair offer on the table and hope to reach a settlement with APSCUF very soon.

“It is essential that we achieve cost savings in other areas in order to help offset proposed salary increases that are included in the proposed new agreement. A major focus is in the area of healthcare, where we are seeking provisions that will result in savings similar to those that are included in agreements with all of our other labor unions.”


11/9 - PASSHE's latest proposal to APSCUF

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) have been engaged in collective bargaining for nearly two years. The two sides met again today, during which PASSHE presented a comprehensive proposal that contained the following major components:

• General pay increases of 1 percent each in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and 2 percent in 2014-15. The increases essentially mirror those included in earlier agreements reached with PASSHE’s other labor unions, including AFSCME. The proposal also includes annual step increases for those faculty advancing on the salary schedule and annual cash payments for those at the top of the pay scale, also similar to what is included in the other agreements.

• A comparable salary schedule for full-time, temporary faculty, with a freeze at current salary levels for part-time, temporary faculty. For more detail, please click here.

• Final phase out of incentive payments instituted in 1999 to faculty for the development of distance education courses. The payments were intended to encourage the development of online courses, which were virtually non-existent at the time. Today, hundreds of courses—even entire programs—are being offered online and via other methods of distance education. The incentives have been effective and are no longer necessary.

• Modifications to the PASSHE managed healthcare plan to align it more closely with the plan offered by the Pennsylvania Employee Benefits Trust Fund (PEBTF), which covers more than 80,000 state employees, including about one-third of all PASSHE employees. The revisions would produce premium cost savings for both PASSHE and PASSHE employees covered by the plan. For a more detailed explanation of this proposal, please click here.

• A one-time reopening of the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program that PASSHE offered to all employee groups approximately two years ago. APSCUF refused to allow its members to participate in the program when it was first offered; all other employee groups took part, producing annual savings to the State System of approximately $10 million.

PASSHE is committed to achieving a new collective bargaining agreement with APSCUF that is fair to everyone, especially to our students and their families who currently provide nearly two-thirds of the revenue needed to operate the universities. It is essential PASSHE achieve cost savings in any new agreement, as it has in each of the agreements with its other labor unions.


10/17 - Sent on Behalf of Karen Ball – TO: Board of Student Government Presidents

I have heard from a number of you today requesting guidance on the status of negotiations between the State System and APSCUF, our faculty union.

First, please allow me to provide you with some background information. PASSHE employees are represented by seven separate labor unions. We have reached final or tentative agreements with six of them. In fact, we announced a tentative agreement with SCUPA today, the union which represents admissions, financial aid, residence life, and other student support services. Each of the settled contracts is structured to assure that any new costs incurred are offset as much as possible with savings through redesigned health care benefits or changes in how work is done.

APSCUF’s most recent contract with PASSHE expired on June 30, 2011. In the absence of a new contract, the faculty has been working under the terms of the old contract. That means no salary increases, changes in benefits, etc. There is no timeline on how long this situation can continue.

We are very mindful of the fact that nearly three-fourths of the revenues for your university come from tuition and fees, with the remainder covered by our annual state appropriation. We are also aware that many of our students and their families are finding it difficult to pay for increases in those costs.

APSCUF recently requested that we enter into binding arbitration to reach a final agreement on a new contract. What that would mean is a neutral third party would be appointed by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to decide the terms of the contract. We denied this request because of our major concern that the neutral party would not be bound to consider the financial ability of PASSHE to pay for its decisions. We also believe the negotiating process works.

That brings us to this week. You should have received a message from the Chancellor’s Office yesterday that contains information about the PASSHE and APSCUF current bargaining positions. Your university contact and/or the Office of the Chancellor will update you as events change.

We have asked the university presidents to designate a contact person to be available to answer questions. Please see a list of the university contacts at the end of this message. We will provide the remaining contact information as soon as it is available. I encourage you to reach out to these contacts to help you in responding to questions you might get from your fellow students. You also can refer other students to these individuals so they may speak with them directly.

The leadership of APSCUF is holding a legislative council meeting on Saturday. It is our understanding that there might be a strike authorization vote taken at that meeting. It is important for you to know that this is NOT A VOTE TO STRIKE. It is a step in the process that must be taken before a strike vote actually could be taken. The next bargaining sessions are scheduled for October 22, November 2, and November 9.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Karen Ball
Vice Chancellor for External Relations
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
717-720-4053
kball@passhe.edu

West Chester University’s student contact: Pam Sheridan, Director of Public Relations and Marketing: psheridan@wcupa.edu.


10/17 news release from PASSHE:

PASSHE, SCUPA reach tentative agreement on new contract

Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the State College and University Professional Association (SCUPA) have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that would run through June 30, 2015.

Both parties said they believe the tentative agreement, which was reached yesterday, is a fair one and will recommend its ratification. SCUPA members will vote on the tentative agreement first, followed by the PASSHE Board of Governors.

Once ratified by each side, the agreement will allow PASSHE and its employees to continue to provide high quality support and services to the State System’s nearly 115,000 students, officials said. In announcing the tentative agreement, SCUPA leaders recognized the prior work done by the late Marc Kornfeld on the negotiations that led up to their successful conclusion.

SCUPA represents approximately 600 admissions, financial aid, residence life and other student support services officers on the 14 PASSHE campuses.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania. The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg.


10/15 Letter from the Chancellor

October 15, 2012

Dear Dr. Hicks:

Thank you for your letter of September 25, 2012. After a review of your request for binding arbitration, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) must decline your offer. Under the provisions of PASSHE’s enabling legislation, Act 188, the Board of Governors and I have fiduciary and legal duties to assure that the system is operated in a transparent and fiscally responsible manner. We believe it would be improper to delegate those responsibilities to a third party arbitrator who does not have the responsibility or duty to consider the financial implications of their decisions and who is not obligated to take into account the interests of Pennsylvania taxpayers or the long-term effects of those decisions on the Commonwealth or PASSHE.

We also considered the following in making our decision:

  • Based on our ability to reach agreements with five of our bargaining units, we remain committed to the negotiating process.
  • We fully endorse our proposal presented at the October 5th bargaining session which contains the following elements:
  • Salary increases consistent with the Commonwealth pattern established with the AFSCME bargaining unit as well as step increments for faculty moving up the salary schedule, annual cash payments for faculty at the top of the pay range, and an increase in compensation for summer employment. In addition, the proposal provides summer, winter and overload compensation tied to the current academic year’s salary structure.
  • Modifications to the PASSHE health care plan to make it more aligned with the PEBTF benefit plan. Membership in PEBTF includes 80,000 Commonwealth employees including the Governor and other executive branch personnel and almost 4,300 of 12,700 PASSHE employees.
  • Realignment of pay for temporary faculty to better reflect regional rates at other higher education institutions while assuring that PASSHE universities remain competitive employers.
  • Final phase-out of the distance education incentive payments originally inserted into an agreement in 1999. PASSHE distance education programs and online courses have significantly grown since that time, and far more faculty have the requisite skills to revise a course, which negate the need for the original concept.
  • A proposal to shift to a defined contribution model of funding retiree health benefits for future new hires only, similar to the model recently adopted by Penn State. This is necessary to begin to address the growing retiree health care liability which currently is $1.4 billion.
  • Offer to reopen the one-time retirement incentive program offered to eligible employees in 2010 if the successor collective bargaining agreement is ratified by APSCUF members by December 31, 2012.

PASSHE believes that the collective bargaining process is the best way to reach an agreement and we remain committed to reaching a fair and affordable contract.

Dr. John C. Cavanaugh
Chancellor