10:39 p.m., Oct. 18
Union leaders will work through the night to avoid a strike, APSCUF President Kenneth Mash said to more than 6,000 people via a live Facebook address.
“We’re going to stay here,” he said, sitting alongside union members at a conference table. “We’re going to try and see if we can reach out to other channels.”
Mash said PASSHE ended negotiations but the union will continue to try to find a resolution.
“At 5 o’clock in the morning I will either have a tentative agreement in my hands or a picket sign,” Mash said.
APSCUF will get more information out to the public through the night but its final decision will be made at 5 a.m.
Mash advised students to use their own wisdom in deciding whether to go to class if there is a strike.
“The overall goal of academia is the pursuit of truth,” he said. Students deserve faculty members that are able to help with research and advising clubs and not faculty that are over-extended in their responsibilities, he said.
Students can email and call legislators and the governor’s office to encourage PASSHE administrators to go back to the table tonight, Mash said.
APSCUF will inform students whether faculty are striking or teaching via its website, APSCUF.org, and through its Facebook page and Twitter account.
“I’m hoping that [PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan] puts aside his ego or whatever is motivating him,” he said, “and tells his team to get back to the table for the sake of our students.”
10:30 p.m., Oct. 18
With less than eight hours until thousands of faculty members from 14 Pennsylvania universities strike, the state system offered a new proposal for union members to consider.
APSCUF’s final decision about whether to strike will come at 4:59 a.m. tomorrow — and that it is sticking to its deadline, according to the union’s tweet.
The two sides have been at the negotiating table for the past five days, attempting to hammer out a contract. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (ASPCUF) tweeted that the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) gave them a final offer and ended negotiations.
APSCUF and PASSHE made significant progress in the past few days regarding several issues, but the union has yet to accept the latest proposal, according to a PASSHE press release. Some of the issues that were agreed upon include: distance education, recruitment and retention of high-quality faculty and professional responsibilities outside the classroom.
They did not agree on salary and healthcare proposals. The state system is offering raises for permanent and temporary faculty, but a healthcare package that puts more of a financial burden on union members.
PASSHE Media Relations Manager Kenn Marshall said the healthcare package is identical to what other state system employees are receiving.
“We don’t understand how APSCUF can argue that faculty members should be entitled to a better healthcare plan than our other employees,” he said. “If APSCUF won’t agree to share more of the costs for their own healthcare — like everyone else has — it will threaten our ability to keep tuition affordable for students.”
One major issue APSCUF has concerns proposals that would change how much some faculty are paid and what their workload is.
Adjunct faculty, which are temporary faculty, are to either have their workload increased by 25 percent, or their salaries cut by 20 percent, said APSCUF President Kenneth Mash.
Students and Shippensburg University
The faculty union has never gone on strike, though it came close in 2007. If a strike does occur, more than 100,000 students across Pennsylvania will be affected.
Students are instructed to go to class tomorrow as planned, according PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan and Shippensburg University President George “Jody” Harpster.
“Faculty members are not required to strike, so it is important that you attend every scheduled class unless it is determined that the professor is on strike,” Harpster said in an email to students on Friday.
Mash said solidarity among faculty members is high across the state system, and believes the overwhelming majority of faculty members will strike. APSCUF is a democracy and cannot force members to participate, he said.
Though many classes may be canceled tomorrow if there is a strike, the following services will still be open at SU: Ceddia Union Building, computer labs, dining services, Etter Health Center, Ezra Lehman Library, residence halls, ShipRec, the university police department and administrative offices. The counseling center will be closed.
Students will not be excused from class if they are unwilling to cross a picket line, Harpster said. Professors are not allowed to change the meeting place for a class. A strike will not negatively impact a student’s grade in individual courses, according to Harpster.
SU administrators are to devise a plan to make up lost class time so students can complete their courses. This could include extending the semester, holding classes in the evening and on weekends and reducing breaks, Harpster said.
Professors may cut nonessential information from their courses to make up for lost class time, said Debra Cornelius, an SU sociology professor.
If a prolonged strike occurs and particular courses cannot be completed within the fall semester, SU will refund students’ tuition for that course, according to Harpster.
Undergraduate scheduling for the spring 2017 semester will begin on Oct. 24, as planned. Students who are unable to meet with their adviser should consult the dean of their college to receive their pin number.
Gov. Tom Wolf weighs in
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf released a statement concerning the strike and negotiations today, taking a neutral stance.
“I have monitored negotiations between PASSHE and APSCUF closely and I have had many conversations with both sides,” Wolf said. “Throughout all of this I have repeatedly urged both sides to continue talking until an agreement is reached.”
Wolf said he understands the positions of both sides and believes there is enough common ground for PASSHE and APSCUF to reach an agreement.
“The governor urged us to keep on negotiating,” Mash said. “He personally spoke to both sides and urged us to settle this. I find it shocking that Chancellor Frank Brogan would spit in the governor’s eye like that.”
Mash said, “Through all of this, the governor has been a strong advocate for the students.”