Faculty members cast ballots for strike authorization

By Angela Fries
Lifestyles Editor

November 15, 2012

Photo courtesy of: Colleen Rakowski
Chris Offutt, professor of psychology, handing out palm cards to inform students about strike authorization.

Faculty members cast their ballots Wednesday evening to determine whether or not a strike will be authorized.

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has proposed to cut healthcare benefits for APSCUF (the faculty union), essentially causing them to pay more out of pocket. They are also proposing to pay temporary faculty less than the full time rate with no chance of pay increase. PASSHE is proposing to remove all limits on online education. Lastly, PASSHE has not addressed APSCUF’s concern about larger classes.

The ballots have been sent to Harrisburg to be counted.

“We probably won’t hear anything about the final count until Friday,” said Conne Reece, professor of communication. “There was a high turnout, so there is a good chance that the strike will be authorized.”

Professors have been working without a contract since July 2011 when their contract expired. Taking action by authorizing a strike is the only way to force the chancellor to negotiate the contract.

“A positive strike authorization vote with high voter turnout will send a message to Governor Corbett that we are serious about the contract,” said Reece.

APSCUF has offered to go into a binding arbitration, which is where they have an independent third party come in and decide what is fair for the contract. The third party’s decision would be binding. However, the PASSHE has declined this offer.

The impending strike has been on the tongues of students and faculty alike for the past few weeks. Students are concerned about the effects it will have on their graduation and semester schedules.

“I’m nervous that if it happens next semester, it will postpone my graduation,” said Meghan Dashe, a senior majoring in communication.

Matthew Girton, professor of communication, has said that it’s not only the students’ schedules that will be affected. Lock Haven University is competing with all other universities in the mid-atlantic region to hire the most competent professors. Without competitive pay and benefits being offered to the faculty, the students’ educations will suffer.

By forcing professors to teach online courses they are also lessening the competitiveness when it comes to enticing students to attend a PASSHE university.

“Students come to Lock Haven University for small class sizes, and face time with their professors,” said Girton. “They do not choose our university for distance education.”

“A positive strike authorization vote with high voter turnout will send a message to Governor Corbett that we are serious about the contract,” said Reece.

“No one wants to go on strike but it’s something that’s a last resort,” said Girton. “We don’t get paid but if we must take it to protect the quality of education, we will do it.”

Students that would like to take action and help professors in protecting the quality of education at our universities are urged to email the chancellor with their concerns.

Students financially support the universities and by supporting the professors in their effort, the chances of reaching a settlement for the contracts are higher.

The chancellor, John C. Cavanaugh, Ph.D., can be contacted by email at jcavanaugh@passhe.edu.


2 thoughts on “Faculty members cast ballots for strike authorization

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