Monday night the negotiations committee of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) collectively approved a tentative contract agreement with the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
Bloomsburg University President David Soltz’s recent email assured the student body that their spring semester would continue without any disturbances.
Soltz stated, “While the contract still must be ratified by faculty members, a settlement is within reach and there should be no interruption in the spring semester.”
Rumors of a strike had been surfacing throughout BU’s campus along with the other 13 schools in the PASSHE system since the fall semester. Many students were actually worried whether their welcome back to the university would include their professors being in the classroom.
Faculty members had made it known that they did not wish to strike, however they were prepared to do so if necessary. The members of APSCUF’s motive for the strike stemmed from the belief that PASSHE was unfair in its decision to reduce payments for distance education course preparation and delivery and redesigning its health care plan along with retiree health benefits.
Bloomsburg University senior, Gina Tyson, expressed her concerns regarding the rumoured strike, “I was incredibly worried that if the teachers went on strike, that I wouldn’t be able to receive my degree on time,” she said. “Once I heard that the strike was unlikely, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
Faculty members will receive a minute raise, but after much deliberation, the proposed four-year agreement includes changes to health care plans, including increased co-pays for emergency room visits, prescription medications, and office visits.
Faculty and coaches will receive no raise the first year, 1 percent the second year, 1 percent the third year and 2 percent the fourth year.
In addition to healthcare benefits, class size will be included in the collective bargaining agreement for the first time ever. While the tentative agreement will get rid of course development compensation for distance education, it provides for technical support and instructional design professionals to aid the faculty members.
Later this week, APSCUF members are set to vote on the tentative agreement at a Legislative Assembly. The exact details of the agreement will be released to the public after the ratification process.
Steve Hicks, president of APSCUF, and professor at Lock Haven University said in a prepared statement, “By reaching a fair agreement, faculty can now focus on what they love to do: teach. Students can continue the semester without the looming threat of a strike.”