APSCUF President Kenneth Mash held a press conference through Facebook Live for student journalists last Wednesday to answer questions about the contract negotiations with PASSHE.
Mash started the conference by saying that he was sorry to the students at the universities.
“I’m sorry to students because I feel we’ve gotten to a place yet again where students are caught in the middle between the faculty and the administration,” Mash said.
Mash said that after the negotiations are over, APSCUF plans to go to the state system and the governor’s office to find a way to make sure that the contract negotiation conflicts that seem to happen every four years don’t arise in the future.
“We are still very hopeful that we’ll be able to go to the table and negotiate a deal with the state system,” Mash said.
Mash said that there are still issues in the contract negotiations concerning adjunct faculty, academic quality, salaries and benefits.
Mash then answered questions from those watching the stream, focusing on questions from student journalists from the numerous schools in the state system.
A few questions focused largely on student work and how it will be affected if the faculty goes on strike. Mash said APSCUF has no control over what the universities may do to fill in the slots left open by the faculty members on strike, but said that work that students do in the the classroom is work they do with a professor.
Mash said that APSCUF was glad that state system took the proposal for graduate students to teach classes off the table and attributed this to student involvement.
“We’re grateful to our students and to their families for being willing to go ahead and write and pass that message along,” Mash said.
Mash said APSCUF won’t concede on some issues, such as increasing temporary faculty and forcing students to take online classes.
Mash also noted that the state system has proposed to cut salaries of temporary faculty by 20 percent while raising their healthcare.
“We’re not going to allow that to happen,” Mash said. “We’re not going to give on that.”
Mash said that cutting the salaries of temporary faculty would put some professors with families below the poverty line. He said that 60 percent of the adjunct faculty are women, meaning that there is a pay equity issue as well.
Mash was unable to answer some questions, which dealt with what students should do during a strike. He said that the universities are in control of that, as the professors will be picketing. Mash did encourage students to channel their energies and make themselves heard.
“Students would be very surprised by just how much power they have if they act in concert,” Mash said.
Towards the end of the press conference Mash encouraged students to visit APSCUF’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to get updates on the contract negotiations and whether or not the members are on strike.
“We’re going to try and make sure that we never hit that strike,” Mash said.