State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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In the event of a strike...

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 18, 2012 11:15 PM

Faculty and coaches at the 14 state-owned universities – including Indiana, Bloomsburg, and West Chester – have taken one more step toward a strike. Votes were tallied Friday afternoon to allow the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties to draw a picket line in the sand as contract negotiations continue.

What would happen if the union actually went through with it?

For one thing, students shouldn’t assume they can sleep through their morning classes. Kenn Marshall, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, said even if a strike is called, universities aren’t planning to cancel the semester.

“Individual faculty members would make the decision whether to continue teaching or not, that would be an individual choice so what we would tell students is they should show up for class,” Marshall said.

An APSCUF spokeswoman said the union expects full participation from all of its members in the event of a strike.  “I do not anticipate that any faculty members would cross the picket line,” said Lauren Gutshall.

Of course, the picket line is still purely hypothetical – a point emphasized by the state system. Strikes have been authorized in the past three contract negotiations with faculty, dating back to 1999 – and never have the professors and coaches actually gone on strike. APSCUF’s president has said it’s unlikely a strike will be called this year.

Still, the PASSHE has contingency plans for all their universities’ functions. “The residence halls would remain open. The dining halls would remain open,” Marshall said. “So, you know, food services would continue. All other services would continue.”

The union has been at odds with the state system over things like health care benefits and compensation for online classes. The next contract negotiation sessions are slated for December 11 and December 19.

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