PASSHE and APSCUF agree on tentative contract

Jonathan Janasik, Rocket News Editor
February 7, 2013

After nearly two years of negotiating, ASPCUF (Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties) announced Monday that they unanimously approved the tentative contract agreement with PASSHE (Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education).

A framework for the contract was created and approved on Sunday morning. SRU chapter president of APSCUF Patrick Burkhart explained that a framework is simply the initial written terms of the new contract. After the head of PASSHE and the head of APSCUF agree on the terms, it becomes a framework.

It is then passed to the 14 chapter presidents of APSCUF, where they vote on if they will accept the contract or not. If a majority vote that they like the framework, then it officially becomes a tentative contract.

The contract still needs to be ratified in order for its terms to be put in effect. For this to happen, all APSCUF members will vote in a secret ballot. If a majority of members agrees to the terms, then the tentative contract will be used. Burkhart expects the voter to be finished within two to three weeks.

“It took a long time to come to these agreements, it was expensive with all of the legal fees, and it caused a lot of stress,” Burkhart explained. “But I think that it’s a good contract, and that an overwhelming majority of APSCUF members will accept it.”

Kenn Marshall Media Relations Manager of PASSHE explained that after all APSCUF members vote on it, the final step is for it to be approved by the Board of Governors.

While Marshall stated that specific details about the contract cannot be released until it is ratified, APSCUF sent an email to members that detailed some of the attributes of the contract.

One of the biggest changes is that the topic of class size is included on the

collective bargaining agreement. Burkhart explained that before this was included in the contract, faculty had no way of communicating their concerns about class sizes.

This plan has two steps. The first is called “Meet and Discuss” and it allows faculty and administrators to talk about issues including growing class sizes. Burkhart stated faculty had no grounds to stand on when speaking about class size before the new tentative contract.

The second step is the formation of a Curriculum Committee. This committee will be composed of members of the faculty and administration. They will make decisions about programs and classes based upon if they complete the goals that are promised by the university.

“I don’t know how it will play out,” Burkhart said. “We’ve never been here before, but we’re optimistic just to be here.”

According to Burkhart, the previous contract proposed by PASSHE did not include any raises for faculty. The new contract also states that faculty will receive a raise in salary that is similar to the raises that the other unions in Pa. receive. Burkhart stated that this is to insure that the faculty’s salary grows consistently with inflation. By doing this, it guarantees that the faculty has the same amount of buying power from year to year.

The tentative contract addresses health care by stating that faculty will have an increase in copayments. The agreement states that domestic partner health care coverage will be available for retirees. It also states that both sides will continue to negotiate voluntary alternate plans to the current retiree health care plan.

Distance education is the last topic that the APSCUF email addresses. It states that professors will no longer be compensated for developing or updating online courses. With that being said, professors do still receive payment per-student. Also, technical support and instructional design professionals will be provided to universities in order to assist professors in creating and coding for online courses.

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