Faculty rallies as contract battle drags on at Pa. state colleges

(Image via passhe.edu)

(Image via passhe.edu)

Faculty members from Pennsylvania’s state university system are rallying over the continuing lack of a contract agreement.

The professors at the 14 state-owned schools have been without one for more than a year, and negotiations between the system and the union aren’t going well.

A walkout is scheduled for Oct. 19, and many think it’s looking like a very real possibility.

As hundreds of faculty members carried signs in front of state higher education headquarters in Harrisburg, several students also milled around.

Some, including Bloomsburg University senior Shelby Coleman, were carrying signs and wearing T-shirts in support of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.

“I feel like it’s the state system, personally,” Coleman said when asked who was at fault. “Everyone I’ve talked to pretty much supports APSCUF, and we appreciate that they’re fighting for our education.”

Negotiations have stopped until Oct. 14.

That will  give union and school system leadership just five days to come up with a solution and avoid students missing classes.

APSCUF union President Ken Mash, who attended the rally, said he’s still not thinking in terms of a strike.

“I want to think that we’re going to go into that room, reason will prevail, and we’re going to work out a contract,” he said.

The two sides are deadlocked over health care and adjunct hours, among other issues. There’s no clear consensus on what would happen to students’ grades and credits if the strike happens.

Another Bloomsburg senior, Megan Burke, said it’s an uncomfortable situation.

“You’re really not hearing anything from the state. So everybody’s just talking amongst themselves,” she said. “Nobody really knows what’s going on.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.