The Shippensburg University chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) met on campus Tuesday afternoon to discuss the details of the current contract proposal for faculty on the table, its effect on all levels of faculty and the potential for a strike.
SU economics professor and president of the SU chapter of APSCUF, Brendan Finucane, discussed the details of the impact of the current proposal on adjuncts and new hires and the proposal’s implications for health care plans.
“I think the faculty realizes that the negotiating team on our behalf has been very reasonable and that we’re asking for a fair contract,” Finucane said. “We’ve already agreed to accept the financial package that is equivalent to what other state employee unions have settled on with the state of Pennsylvania, and Gov. Corbett even said that those contracts that had the same thing that we are asking for were reasonable contracts and were not going to put undue financial burdens on the state of Pennsylvania, so we are asking for the same deal.”
He noted that PASSHE approved the financial package he spoke of, but added its own provisions including one of the biggest issues Finucane discussed — significant pay cuts for adjuncts who are already the lowest-paid faculty on campus.
Besides that, he took issue with reduction of health care benefits that new hires would receive in their retirement. Finucane said it was morally questionable for faculty to enter into a deal to get something for themselves but impose the costs on somebody else.
Finucane described the tactics of PASSHE’s chancellor’s office as similar to divide and conquer; dividing adjuncts from the regular faculty, and dividing the current faculty from the future faculty by treating them differently.
“They put their secret sauce on it that made it inedible,” Finucane said.
On Saturday, the leadership of APSCUF unanimously approved a strike authorization vote, putting the decision whether to empower the union to strike to the overall union membership. On Nov. 12, 13 and 14, SU faculty will vote to authorize the strike authorization. That will not necessarily trigger a strike, but it will bring faculty one step closer to it.
Finucane noted that this contract cycle is nothing new, and it is at this point in negotiation that PASSHE tends to start negotiating more, although he acknowledges the future is always uncertain.
“What we have in common with the chancellor’s office and his team is we’re all educators,” Finucane said, noting that both sides would prefer to avoid disruption of students’ academics.