APSCUF reaches contract agreement with PASSHE

Published by adviser, Author: Catie Clark - Assistant News Editor, Date: March 28, 2013
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The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) reached a contract agreement March 20 with The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors after 21 months of negotiations.

APSCUF represents both university faculty and athletic coaches, so separate agreements were ratified for each group, which will run through June 30, 2015.

Dr. Patrick Burkhart, President of SRU’s APSCUF chapter, said the vote for the contract was strongly in support by the faculty.

“The faculty were pleased to have a contract,” Burkhart said. “It followed the pattern of other collective bargaining agreements in the Commonwealth.”

According to Burkhart, Governor Tom Corbett described the contract as being fiscally responsible.

Burkhart said that this was the first time discussing class size at the negotiations table, which was a big step in the right direction.

The contract includes salary increases, which match those provided to other state employee unions.

According to a PASSHE press release, under the new agreement with the faculty, there will be pay increases of 1 percent each in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and 2 percent in 2014-15. Faculty will also receive either annual service increments of 2.5 percent or 5 percent in each of the three years as they move up the salary schedule or annual cash payments equivalent to 2.5 percent of their base salary if they already are at the top of the pay scale. About one-third of faculty receives the increments.

The new agreement with the coaches includes salary increases of 2.5 percent in 2012-13 and 2.25 percent in 2013-14, as well as performance-based merit pools of 3 percent each in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Coaches do not receive annual service increments. Minimum salaries for both head and assistant coaches will be increased effective Jan. 1, 2015, according to a press release by PASSHE.

According to a PASSHE press release, faculty will have higher co-payments for prescription drugs as well as for some office and emergency room visits, while coaches will make larger contributions to the cost of their healthcare premiums with the new contracts.

“Health care costs are increasing, but everyone faces that,”

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) reached a contract agreement March 20 with The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors after 21 months of negotiations.

APSCUF represents both university faculty and athletic coaches, so separate agreements were ratified for each group, which will run through June 30, 2015.

Dr. Patrick Burkhart, President of SRU’s APSCUF chapter, said the vote for the contract was strongly in support by the faculty.

“The faculty were pleased to have a contract,” Burkhart said. “It followed the pattern of other collective bargaining agreements in the Commonwealth.”

According to Burkhart, Governor Tom Corbett described the contract as being fiscally responsible.

Burkhart said that this was the first time discussing class size at the negotiations table, which was a big step in the right direction.

The contract includes salary increases, which match those provided to other state employee unions.

According to a PASSHE press release, under the new agreement with the faculty, there will be pay increases of 1 percent each in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and 2 percent in 2014-15. Faculty will also receive either annual service increments of 2.5 percent or 5 percent in each of the three years as they move up the salary schedule or annual cash payments equivalent to 2.5 percent of their base salary if they already are at the top of the pay scale. About one-third of faculty receives the increments.

The new agreement with the coaches includes salary increases of 2.5 percent in 2012-13 and 2.25 percent in 2013-14, as well as performance-based merit pools of 3 percent each in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Coaches do not receive annual service increments. Minimum salaries for both head and assistant coaches will be increased effective Jan. 1, 2015, according to a press release by PASSHE.

According to a PASSHE press release, faculty will have higher co-payments for prescription drugs as well as for some office and emergency room visits, while coaches will make larger contributions to the cost of their healthcare premiums with the new contracts.

“Health care costs are increasing, but everyone faces that,” Burkhart said. “Overall, I think it’s a good agreement.”

Burkhart hopes for a new pattern of negotiations in the future.

“Ideally I wish that we could evolve to a different pattern of negotiation that would not get to brinkmanship,” Burkhart said. “It’s a terrible pattern, and is so stressful.”

According to Burkhart, the University should attempt to come to an agreement prior to the end of a contract.

“We know we’re going to settle, why not do it sooner rather than later,” Burkhart said.

According to PASSHE Media Relations Manager Kenn Marshall, PASSHE is not concerned with the next contract as of yet.

“We’re not even thinking about [upcoming negotiations] as this point, we spent two years negotiating without a contract with seven different labor unions,” Marshall said. “There isn’t any thought right now to the next project, it is at least a year and a half down the road.”

Burkhart also said that he doesn’t like the image working without a contract with the potential of a strike gives the University.

“I’m really proud of the Slippery Rock education… and the context of brinksmanship can denigrate the faculty, system, university, and students,” Burkhart said. “I don’t like any aspersions that we’re broken.”

Negotiations begin in final year of existing contract, and will be starting again on July 1, 2014.

“That’s only 15 months from now,” Burkhart said. “Reaching an agreement in the final year of the contract would be wonderful. I’m hopeful for this, but not optimistic.”

Marshall said that he can’t yet comment on how future negotiations will be or how they will go.

“[However,] It is very rare that a contract will be settled prior to the conclusion of the old agreement,” Marshall said.

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