By Emily Leayman
The new contract for the faculty union, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, is due June 30, 2015, but discussions will not start until after the governor’s election.
“Our current contract negotiations [are] really overshadowed by the gubernatorial race,” said Dr. Kevin Mahoney, public relations representative for APSCUF at KU.
APSCUF President Ken Mash, who visited KU on Thursday, expects negotiations to officially begin after Jan. 1, 2015.
According to Kenn Marshall, media relations manager for PASSHE, representatives from PASSHE and APSCUF met on Aug. 13 to begin negotiations. The meeting was introductory, and more serious discussions will begin later. For past contract discussions, the first formal proposals occurred in early to mid-February.
“Students should have access to relevant programs that meet their needs and that prepare them for the future following graduation,” said Thomas S. Giotto, the leader of PASSHE’s bargaining team, in a statement after the meeting. “The next collective bargaining agreement must support this vision as well as the ongoing financial viability of the universities.”
Mahoney said that the two parties have been exchanging emails too.
“Both the union side and state side fully recognize that if they started negotiating now and were to come up with some baseline agreement that could all go out the window with the new governor. It would be kind of practical to go ahead now,” he said.
According to Mahoney, if Tom Wolf gets elected as governor, the parties may rethink higher education appropriations. If Tom Corbett gets re-elected, the union expects a continuation of present money from the state. Mahoney believes the negotiations could take longer depending on the amount of appropriations the state gives.
Statewide APSCUF’s main objective is restoring the $90 million dollars that it claims Corbett cut over four years.
“…There’s not much farther you can squeeze the universities without taking away from faculty salaries…We feel that if that money is restored, we can have more sensible conversations about the academic direction of the state system universities,” Mahoney said.
APSCUF, consisting of about 5,800 PASSHE faculty, approved the current contract in March 2013 after working without one for over 18 months.