APSCUF President Kenneth Mash visited SRU on Tuesday to update local members on the contract negotiations at their meeting during common hour.
Mash said that APSCUF and PASSHE were still far apart on some issues but was still optimistic that a fair deal that preserves equality for students can still be reached. He said he was happy when PASSHE took the proposal of graduate students teaching off the table, but that the state system still wanted to expand the use of adjunct faculty and hadn’t give a specific answer on distance education, which Mash said would coerce students into taking online classes.
Mash said he has been going around to all APSCUF members in the 14 state-operated schools.
“I have a responsibility to the faculty I represent to keep them informed about what’s going on and let them know what we’re doing in order to prepare,” Mash said.
Mash said he doesn’t think it’s fair that students have to go through the possibility of a strike every time a new contract needs to be negotiated and that there’s an obligation from both the state system and APSCUF to fix the process so students don’t have to suffer.
He said APSCUF is regularly in the capitol building lobbying for more funding and in the past paid for students to ride buses to Harrisburg and have a rally.
“We’ve been very active in trying to get additional funding but I think the system itself have to focus a lot more on getting more funding for the system,” Mash said.
Mash said he still has not been given the universities’ plan if a strike were occur but hoped they would not have to use whatever plan they may have.
“I hope that we get to the table and they’re being rational and we’re behaving rationally and we come to a conclusion,” Mash said. “I’m hoping we can still make some progress.”
Mash said if a strike were to occur for a long duration and the need presented itself that APSCUF always has the possibility to have more questions answered or give updates through Facebook Live. Mash said the goal of the strike is to have picket lines at all of the universities in the state system and at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg. He said he would go to the table as often as possible to end the strike quickly.
“It’s a matter of us trying to preserve people’s education,” Mash said. “We’re trying to preserve equality for not just the students who are here now but the students are going to come to this university and we’re concerned that our alumni’s degrees may not be worth as much today and tomorrow that they were at the time that they earned them.”
The next negotiation session between PASSHE and APSCUF is set for Friday Oct. 14., with APSCUF striking by Oct. 19 if a contract is not made by then.