PASSHE Contract Negotiations Updates
APSCUF approves tentative contract, which now goes to Board of Governors
Harrisburg– The membership of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) has voted to ratify the tentative agreement it reached last month with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). The agreement will now go to the PASSHE Board of Governors for final action.
“We are pleased with the outcome of the vote taken by the APSCUF membership to ratify the tentative agreement on a new faculty contract,” said Gary Dent, PASSHE vice chancellor for human resources and labor relations. “The tentative agreement will now go to the Board of Governors for its consideration.”
The Board has scheduled a special meeting for March 20 to consider the agreement. The Board at the same meeting will consider a separate agreement with athletic coaches. The coaches' bargaining unit voted earlier to approve a new four-year contract.
APSCUF represents both bargaining units, which separately include about 5,500 faculty and 600 coaches.
PASSHE, APSCUF agree on tentative faculty contract
Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) on Feb. 3 announced that they had agreed to the framework for a new contract with the approximately 5,500 faculty at the 14 state-owned universities.
On Feb. 4, APSCUF officials announced that the union’s negotiations committee had unanimously approved the tentative agreement with PASSHE. The following weekend, the APSCUF legislative assembly recommended that members approve the four-year agreement.
The next steps in the process are a vote by APSCUF members and, if approved by the members, consideration by the State System of Higher Education Board of Governors.
PASSHE officials said more information will be made available as ratification proceeds.
1/24 news release from PASSHE:
PASSHE Board of Governors Chairman issues statement on contract negotiations with faculty union
Harrisburg – Guido M. Pichini, chairman of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors, commented today on the status of contract negotiations between the State System and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), the union that represents faculty at the 14 state-owned universities. Mr. Pichini made his remarks during the Board’s regular quarterly meeting.
Below is Mr. Pichini’s statement:
“As we prepare collectively for the start of the spring semester, I feel it is imperative that I address the topic most on everyone’s mind today – negotiations with our faculty union.
“First, let me reinforce the Board of Governors’ commitment to achieving a new collective bargaining agreement with APSCUF that is fair, that is affordable and that positions the State System to continue to provide a quality education to our students for years to come.
“That has been our goal throughout this unprecedented process, during which we have negotiated with all of our unions in a single cycle. That has never happened before, and it has been extremely difficult.
“However, as everyone in this room likely is aware, we have been successful in achieving that goal with all of our unions, with the exception of the APSCUF bargaining unit that represents our university faculty.
“All of the agreements that have been reached to date have included an array of cost savings – in many cases, concessions – that have helped to offset the cost of wage and salary increases included in them.
“I want to personally thank each of those unions – and, even more important, their members – for recognizing the enormous challenges facing the State System and for partnering with us to achieve this success. I truly believe the sacrifices you made were essential to the long-term stability of our universities.
“All of us must remember why we are here – our students.
“The simple fact is without the cost savings we already have achieved through the agreements we have reached to date – and the additional savings we are seeking through the negotiations with APSCUF – the ability of our universities to continue to offer quality, affordable education would be – and is – seriously threatened.
“As difficult as these negotiations have been, we have been able to come to agreement with APSCUF on a number of very important issues, including wage and salary increases for virtually all faculty this year and in each of the next two years. Usually, that is the last area of agreement.
“There are only a small number of issues that have yet to be resolved, but they are significant. We cannot continue to incur the kinds of cost increases we have been experiencing; we must have cost savings.
“Healthcare represents an area where both cost savings and greater fairness to our employees can be achieved – and have been with our other unions.
“PASSHE is seeking to more closely align its healthcare plan with the plan offered by the Commonwealth to nearly 80,000 state employees, including the Governor and his cabinet, as well as nearly one-third of all PASSHE employees.
“We have stated this goal repeatedly throughout these negotiations, and have been completely transparent on this matter, even placing a side-by-side comparison of the two plans on our public website.
“The unions representing both our university health center nurses and our campus police and security officers, whose members are covered by the PASSHE-run plan, have agreed to this concept; APSCUF continues to oppose it, without providing any response as to why this is not a reasonable request.
“The changes we have proposed not only would help ensure that virtually all PASSHE employees – including non-represented managers, administrators and executives – would receive the same level of benefits, but also would result in lower premiums for everyone in the plan.
“Most PASSHE employees covered by the plan – faculty, nurses, police and security officers and non-represented employees – pay either 15 percent or 25 percent of the total premium, depending on whether they participate in the System’s wellness plan.
“PASSHE currently pays more than $15,000 a year for family coverage under this plan, compared to $10,140 for family coverage under the Commonwealth’s plan. We must address that disparity, and we can begin to do so while ensuring greater fairness for all of our employees.
“We also must address the enormous financial obligation facing PASSHE in the area of annuitant healthcare, which, if allowed to continue unchecked, threatens the System’s viability. That obligation currently stands in excess of $1.4 billion, nearly the equivalent of PASSHE’s annual operating budget.
“The Board of Governors has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the fiscal integrity of the System. The vast majority of our costs – nearly 75 percent – are borne by our students and their families. I believe there is a limit to the amount of costs we can ask our students to absorb, especially in areas that are not directly related to the classroom.
“The change we have proposed in annuitant healthcare would begin to address these costs while providing future employees the option of choosing a defined contribution plan to cover their future healthcare expenses. Those employees – anyone hired after July 1, 2013 – still could choose the defined benefit plan, which currently is provided to all eligible retirees.
“The employee would have a choice of either plan, similar to the choice they have now when selecting a pension plan. APSCUF opposes this proposed change too, even though it would impact only future employees, and would provide those employees an additional choice while taking nothing away.
“These and other costs not related to the classroom are threatening to strip the universities of their ability to develop and offer the types of new programs students need – and even to maintain the ones they have now – and to modernize their academic facilities to ensure students receive the kinds of educational experiences necessary to assure their success.
“We must resolve these issues quickly and fairly so that we can get back to working together on what matters most – continuously enhancing the quality of education our students receive.”
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 115,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and the Philadelphia Multi University Center in Philadelphia.
Media Relations Manager
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
Office of the Chancellor
Dixon University Center
2986 North Second Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110-1201
(717) 329-0809 (cell)
PASSHE adds negotiations update to website
State System officials added a negotiations update to the PASSHE website on Wednesday, Dec. 5. The update outlines the major issues PASSHE is seeking to address in negotiations with APSCUF, the faculty union. Click here to read the statement.
A Message from President Wollman to Edinboro Students and Parents
As you may know, members of the union representing our faculty recently authorized their leaders to call a strike. The authorization vote does not mean that a work stoppage is inevitable at Edinboro and the 13 other State System universities, and I sincerely hope that a strike does not occur.
Understandably, this vote has raised concerns among our students and their loved ones. Please know that Edinboro University is prepared to fulfill its primary obligation – to provide a quality education to its students – regardless of a strike by the faculty union. We have a contingency plan in place and are committed to remaining open and keeping our students on schedule for the completion of their degrees.
We continue to be hopeful that an agreement with the faculty can be reached. Chancellor John Cavanaugh and the Board of Governors of the State System of Higher Education are negotiating with the faculty union and working hard to reach a settlement as soon as possible. The State System has never had a faculty strike and the negotiators are intent on averting one this year.
If a strike does appear imminent, we at Edinboro and officials of the State System will be in regular communication with our students and their families. In the meantime, details of the PASSHE bargaining positions and updates about negotiations are available on the State System’s website, http://www.passhe.edu/inside/ne/pnp/Pages/Negotiation_Updates.aspx. We have also created a negotiations update page with answers to frequently asked questions on our Edinboro University website, http://www.edinboro.edu/departments/university_comm/negotiations/passhe.dot. If you have questions that aren’t answered there, you can direct them to Jeffrey Hileman, Director for University Communications, at (814) 732-1333.
This is a challenging moment for our Edinboro University family, but I am confident that we will work through it together for the benefit of our students, who remain the focus of our efforts.
Julie E. Wollman, President
PASSHE presents new proposal in negotiations with faculty union
Harrisburg –The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) have been engaged in collective bargaining for nearly two years. The two sides met again Friday, Nov. 9, during which PASSHE presented a comprehensive proposal that contained the following major components:
- General pay increases of 1 percent each in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and 2 percent in 2014-15. The increases essentially mirror those included in earlier agreements reached with PASSHE’s other labor unions, including AFSCME. The proposal also includes annual step increases for those faculty advancing on the salary schedule and annual cash payments for those at the top of the pay scale, also similar to what is included in the other agreements.
- A comparable salary schedule for full-time, temporary faculty, with a freeze at current salary levels for part-time temporary faculty.
- Final phase out of incentive payments instituted in 1999 to faculty for the development of distance education courses. The payments were intended to encourage the development of online courses, which were virtually non-existent at the time. Today, hundreds of courses — even entire programs — are being offered online and via other methods of distance education. The incentives have been effective and are no longer necessary.
- Modifications to the PASSHE managed healthcare plan to align it more closely with the plan offered by the Pennsylvania Employee Benefits Trust Fund (PEBTF), which covers more than 80,000 state employees, including about one-third of all PASSHE employees. The revisions would produce premium cost savings for both PASSHE and PASSHE employees covered by the plan.
- A one-time reopening of the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program that PASSHE offered to all employee groups approximately two years ago. APSCUF refused to allow its members to participate in the program when it was first offered; all other employee groups took part, producing annual savings to the State System of approximately $10 million.
PASSHE is committed to achieving a new collective bargaining agreement with APSCUF that is fair to everyone, especially to our students and their families who currently provide nearly two-thirds of the revenue needed to operate the universities. It is essential PASSHE achieve cost savings in any new agreement, as it has in all of the agreements with all of its other labor unions.
For more detailed information on PASSHE’s current proposals, including a comparison of benefits provided by the current PASSHE healthcare plan, the proposed changes to the plan and benefits provided by the PEBTF plan, go to the PASSHE website at www.passhe.edu and click on “Contract Negotiations Updates.”
Media Relations Manager
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
Office of the Chancellor
Dixon University Center
2986 North Second Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110-1201
(717) 329-0809 (cell)
FAQ: Answers to frequently asked questions about the strike-authorization vote
Answers to students’ questions about the faculty strike-authorization vote have been assembled by PASSHE and Edinboro University officials to help students understand that the vote does not necessarily mean that a strike is imminent and to inform them about what to expect if a strike were to occur.
Read more »
In response to inquiries into faculty negotiations
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) office is continuing to negotiate a new contract with the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF).
PASSHE already has reached agreements with five of its other bargaining units, including The American Federation of State College and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). PASSHE and Edinboro University officials are hopeful a settlement with APSCUF will be reached soon.
APSCUF has indicated that there may be a vote this weekend to authorize a strike. That doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a strike, but it gives the top union officials the ability to call a work stoppage at a later date.
Edinboro University has a contingency plan in place should a work-stoppage authorization take place, and should faculty choose not to teach their assigned classes. Even if there is a strike, the University will remain open, and campus operations will continue. Additional information can be found on the PASSHE website at:
http://www.passhe.edu/inside/ne/Pages/News-Home.aspx and on the APSCUF website at: http://www.apscuf.com/.
Edinboro University’s contact for students with questions or concerns is Jeffrey Hileman, Director for University Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org.
10/17 message sent on behalf of Karen Ball to Board of Student Government Presidents
I have heard from a number of you today requesting guidance on the status of negotiations between the State System and APSCUF, our faculty union.
First, please allow me to provide you with some background information. PASSHE employees are represented by seven separate labor unions. We have reached final or tentative agreements with six of them. In fact, we announced a tentative agreement with SCUPA today, the union which represents admissions, financial aid, residence life, and other student support services. Each of the settled contracts is structured to assure that any new costs incurred are offset as much as possible with savings through redesigned health care benefits or changes in how work is done.
APSCUF’s most recent contract with PASSHE expired on June 30, 2011. In the absence of a new contract, the faculty has been working under the terms of the old contract. That means no salary increases, changes in benefits, etc. There is no timeline on how long this situation can continue.
We are very mindful of the fact that nearly three-fourths of the revenues for your university come from tuition and fees, with the remainder covered by our annual state appropriation. We are also aware that many of our students and their families are finding it difficult to pay for increases in those costs.
APSCUF recently requested that we enter into binding arbitration to reach a final agreement on a new contract. What that would mean is a neutral third party would be appointed by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to decide the terms of the contract. We denied this request because of our major concern that the neutral party would not be bound to consider the financial ability of PASSHE to pay for its decisions. We also believe the negotiating process works.
That brings us to this week. You should have received a message from the Chancellor’s Office yesterday that contains information about the PASSHE and APSCUF current bargaining positions. Your university contact and/or the Office of the Chancellor will update you as events change.
We have asked the university presidents to designate a contact person to be available to answer questions. Please see a list of the university contacts at the end of this message. We will provide the remaining contact information as soon as it is available. I encourage you to reach out to these contacts to help you in responding to questions you might get from your fellow students. You also can refer other students to these individuals so they may speak with them directly.
The leadership of APSCUF is holding a legislative council meeting on Saturday. It is our understanding that there might be a strike authorization vote taken at that meeting. It is important for you to know that this is NOT A VOTE TO STRIKE. It is a step in the process that must be taken before a strike vote actually could be taken. The next bargaining sessions are scheduled for October 22, November 2, and November 9.
I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Vice Chancellor for External Relations
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
10/17 news release from PASSHE:
PASSHE, SCUPA reach tentative agreement on new contract
Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the State College and University Professional Association (SCUPA) have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that would run through June 30, 2015.
Both parties said they believe the tentative agreement, which was reached yesterday, is a fair one and will recommend its ratification. SCUPA members will vote on the tentative agreement first, followed by the PASSHE Board of Governors.
Once ratified by each side, the agreement will allow PASSHE and its employees to continue to provide high quality support and services to the State System’s nearly 115,000 students, officials said. In announcing the tentative agreement, SCUPA leaders recognized the prior work done by the late Marc Kornfeld on the negotiations that led up to their successful conclusion.
SCUPA represents approximately 600 admissions, financial aid, residence life and other student support services officers on the 14 PASSHE campuses.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania. The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg.
10/15 Letter from the Chancellor
October 15, 2012
Dear Dr. Hicks:
Thank you for your letter of September 25, 2012. After a review of your request for binding arbitration, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) must decline your offer. Under the provisions of PASSHE’s enabling legislation, Act 188, the Board of Governors and I have fiduciary and legal duties to assure that the system is operated in a transparent and fiscally responsible manner. We believe it would be improper to delegate those responsibilities to a third party arbitrator who does not have the responsibility or duty to consider the financial implications of their decisions and who is not obligated to take into account the interests of Pennsylvania taxpayers or the long-term effects of those decisions on the Commonwealth or PASSHE.
We also considered the following in making our decision:
- Based on our ability to reach agreements with five of our bargaining units, we remain committed to the negotiating process.
- We fully endorse our proposal presented at the October 5th bargaining session which contains the following elements:
- Salary increases consistent with the Commonwealth pattern established with the AFSCME bargaining unit as well as step increments for faculty moving up the salary schedule, annual cash payments for faculty at the top of the pay range, and an increase in compensation for summer employment. In addition, the proposal provides summer, winter and overload compensation tied to the current academic year’s salary structure.
- Modifications to the PASSHE health care plan to make it more aligned with the PEBTF benefit plan. Membership in PEBTF includes 80,000 Commonwealth employees including the Governor and other executive branch personnel and almost 4,300 of 12,700 PASSHE employees.
- Realignment of pay for temporary faculty to better reflect regional rates at other higher education institutions while assuring that PASSHE universities remain competitive employers.
- Final phase-out of the distance education incentive payments originally inserted into an agreement in 1999. PASSHE distance education programs and online courses have significantly grown since that time, and far more faculty have the requisite skills to revise a course, which negate the need for the original concept.
- A proposal to shift to a defined contribution model of funding retiree health benefits for future new hires only, similar to the model recently adopted by Penn State. This is necessary to begin to address the growing retiree health care liability which currently is $1.4 billion.
- Offer to reopen the one-time retirement incentive program offered to eligible employees in 2010 if the successor collective bargaining agreement is ratified by APSCUF members by December 31, 2012.
PASSHE believes that the collective bargaining process is the best way to reach an agreement and we remain committed to reaching a fair and affordable contract.
Dr. John C. Cavanaugh