In face of budget cuts, union urges wage freeze, PSU halts construction

State-owned universities are moving quickly to reduce costs in the face of deep budget cuts proposed by Gov. Corbett.

Today the union representing faculty and coaches at Pennsylvania's 14 state universities today said it has "agreed in principle" to negotiate a wage freeze, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) said its action to seek to a one-year wage freeze for 6,000 members came in response to a request by Gov. Corbett in his Mar. 8 budget address to all school unions to implement a wage freeze to help combat the state's $4 billion deficit. Last week the Pennsylvania State Education Association did the same urging union locals representing k-12 teachers to accept a pay freeze next year.

In his budget address, Corbett proposed cutting in half state appropriations to state-supported universities, prompting any outcry by college officials who say they will be forced to increase tuitiion and cut programs.

Meanwhile, news that the cuts would amount to $182 million (or 52 percent) for Penn State University forced the board of trustees to take the unprecedented step of halting tens of millions in new building projects.

The Post-Gazette reports trustees, at a meeting Friday in New York, selected architects but delayed final authorization needed "for any capital projects to proceed until the funding picture becomes more clear," the university said in a statement following the vote.

Among the projects suspended for now are the planned expansion of the student union, the HUB-Robeson Center; renovations to the South Halls residence complex, Pattee Library and Cedar academic building; as well as steam line and chilled water plant works.

"The tremendous uncertainty that the proposed appropriation cuts present forces us to operate with a maximum amount of caution and care," said Al Horvath, senior vice president for finance and business.

Click here for's politics page.