No strike this time, new pact for Pa. college faculty

Faculty and staff of West Chester University on strike last fall.

After a strike last fall, faculty at Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities have reached a tentative agreement on a new one-year contract — eight months before the old pact is set to expire.

“After our previous contract negotiations, we were determined to improve the overall negotiations process, and I am happy to report that our communication with the system vastly improved with these talks,” said Kenneth M. Mash, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF).

Mash said both sides recognized the importance of having labor peace while in the middle of a search for a new system chancellor. Frank T. Brogan left the job this summer.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s 5,500 faculty went on strike for three days last October after protracted negotiations failed to yield an agreement.

If approved by the state’s board of governors and ratified by faculty, the new tentative agreement will run through June 30, 2019. (The current pact is set to expire in June 2018.)

No details will be released until the contract is approved, both sides said, declining to comment on whether the pact includes salary increases. Mash said he hopes the necessary approvals will be completed by December.

“We have been committed to working together to achieve a new agreement in a collaborative manner,” State System Interim Chancellor Karen M. Whitney said in a statement. “As we move toward a positive conclusion for this contract, I’m hopeful it will lead to an even more meaningful relationship based on mutual respect and trust.”

The state system enrolls more than 100,000 students at 14 universities including West Chester, Cheyney, Bloomsburg, California, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, and Slippery Rock.

The contract does not affect Pennsylvania State, Temple or Lincoln Universities, or the University of Pittsburgh, which are not part of the state system.