APSCUF recently rejected a contract proposed by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), leaving university faculty and staff across the state working without a contract.
Currently, APSCUF and PASSHE can’t come to an agreement because PASSHE is demanding that faculty under APSCUF pay a larger sum of money from their salaries to go toward health care.
The purpose of the higher cost of healthcare would be to make tuition more affordable to students, according to Frank Brogan, the chancellor of the state system. PASSHE proposed that faculty members contribute $3 to $14 more each two-week pay period towards healthcare costs, which would vary according to the coverage options faculty members chose.
APSCUF denied the agreement, and they have not since agreed on a contract. This has been going on since summer. The contract issue is still unresolved, and creates an aura of uncertainty for faculty members and students.
This affects us as students, as well as the faculty here in multiple ways.
For one, it discourages potential applicants from applying to teach at our university. Applying for a position without a contract attached makes the job itself appear unsteady, and could be the deciding factor between an applicant working at our university and one not under the PASSHE system.
If applicants do not feel comfortable applying to work at SRU, we are losing the opportunity to be educated by qualified staff members.
It also creates an unstable environment for faculty. Without a contract, faculty members could technically walk out on the university at any time. If professors decided that they were not being treated fairly by not being under contract, then they could leave at any time, which creates an unstable environment for students to learn in. This instability is only worsened by the fact that applicants could potentially be deterred from a position because they are not working under contract.
If a professor decided to walk away from their position, then there might be difficulty filling that position, leaving students without a professor, and possibly forcing them to repeat the class.
There is also threat of a faculty strike. Faculty could strike if PASSHE and APSCUF do not reach an agreement.
A strike would threaten students’ standing, and has potential to prolong the time it takes to complete their degree. Being under the threat of a strike may cause unrest among current students and could discourage new students from coming to SRU over a private university.
Our staff hopes that PASSHE and APSCUF can come to an agreement soon in order to give the faculty and students a higher sense of security.