APSCUF members voted last month to ratify their one-year agreement with PASSHE, with the contract expiring on June 30, 2019.
According to a Nov. 17 APSCUF press release, 98.2 percent of those who voted were in favor of the deal.
“We are pleased that this process has moved along smoothly,” APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said in the press release. “Our members are glad that they can devote their full attention to their students during the upcoming year. We look forward to working with the System to ensure that our future negotiations are productive, fair, and orderly.”
Ben Shaevitz, SRU APSCUF president and physics professor, said the approval rate on a campus level was extremely high.
The details of the contract will be made public after going through the PA Board of Governors. Shaevitz said that overall the contract made minor changes and did not contain many provisions. Shaevitz said that the contract changes seem to be related to the transition in leadership at the state system chancellor’s office.
“Perhaps they didn’t want to have the possibility of a strike at a time when they’re hiring a new chancellor but I think politically it’s related to Brogan’s departure,” Shaevitz said.
Shaevitz said the contract does help to restore some of the concessions APSCUF made in the last round of negotiations and helps to provide stability for both parties, since they will have some time off from worrying about a contract.
“We were [before the contract was approved] gearing up initially to come up with our first proposal,” Shaevitz said. “We get a year off. It gives us all a year to not have this overhead, this burden on top of us. I think everyone is happy to have another year to kind of enjoy the fruits of our negotiating and then we’ll go back to it again.”
The time off is also beneficial for APSCUF in that they have time to work on new projects. Shaevitz said one project being worked on by some APSCUF members is trying to create a free tuition model, such as the one introduced in New York.
“We’ve been working with student government at the state level on that,” Shaevitz said.
Shaevitz said the group is also working on being more active in terms of advocacy for more state funding.
“That’s something that’s been a perpetual issue, but to actually be able to devote resources and energy to it, there’s an opportunity to make change there,” Shaevitz said.
Fixing the relationship between APSCUF and PASSHE is another goal, with Shaevitz saying that there’s a chance to cement a positive working relationship.
“Clearly at the end [of last year] before we struck, it was really contentious between APSCUF and the system,” Shaevitz said. “It’s just not healthy for an organization to have that and a lot of it was public too. I think we’re trying to be proactive to try to repair that damage and maybe agree that it’s not going to happen again.”