Faculty union rejects contract proposal over healthcare costs

Published by adviser, Author: Chris Gordon - Assistant News Editor, Date: November 11, 2015
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Slippery Rock University professors and coaches are now working off contract following the faculty union’s rejection of a budget-saving proposal offered by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

The one-year contract, which would have provided faculty with salary increases and save the stated system $9 million per year, was rejected because it required professors and coaches to take on more of their own healthcare costs, Penn Live reported.

“We rejected it on its face, right then and there,” Ken Mash, the president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), told Penn Live.

PASSHE’s proposal would have required faculty to contribute $3 to $14 more each two-week pay period towards healthcare costs, depending on their level of coverage, Penn Live reported.

The plan was aimed at keeping tuition affordable for families while providing faculty with the same healthcare benefits they enjoyed before, Frank Brogan, the chancellor of the state system, told Penn Live.

“We are committed to keeping tuition as low as possible, which has become increasingly challenging as many of our costs, including those for employee healthcare and pensions, have continued to rise well in excess of the normal rate of inflation,” he said.

Mash also hopes to negotiate a contract running longer than one year, Penn Live reported.

Alex Hvizdos, an undeclared sophomore, said he thinks the rejection is ridiculous.

“If you’re getting a raise that offsets the cost of the healthcare increase,” he said.  “In reality, $14 is nothing.”

Ryan Naylor, a sophomore environmental science major, agrees that the rejection is without merit.

“The portion of money PASSHE is offering is more than adequate to cover the increased healthcare costs,” he said.  “The faculty union really needs to roll back on that.”

Samantha Hallet, a junior public relations major, used her mother to explain why APSCUF should have accepted PASSHE’s offer.

“My mother is a school teacher in Pittsburgh,” she said.  “We have great healthcare, everything is covered.  $14 more really isn’t that big of a deal for that level of coverage.”

PASSHE’s offer was a counter proposal to a plan APSCUF offered on Oct. 14, which did not include an increase in healthcare contributions, the Butler Eagle reported.  Negotiations will resume in Harrisburg on Nov. 20.

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