By Oliver Trojak
A tentative agreement was reached between Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) following three days of faculty on strike.
Faculty around the State System –including those at ESU–left the picket line last Friday and resumed their normal schedules in time for the weekend.
“We are pleased to get to this point and look forward to the conclusion of the process. Once again, everyone can focus on what matters most—teaching and learning,” said PASSHE Board of Governors Chair Cynthia D. Shapira in a PASSHE statement.
The strike caused the cancellation of approximately 1,212 out of the 1,247 normally scheduled classes at ESU Wednesday through Friday, or 97.2% according to data provided by University Relations.
“We are relieved to have an agreement that preserves quality public higher education in Pennsylvania and allows our members to get back into the classroom where they belong,” said APSCUF President Kenneth M. Mash in a press release.
Both sides thanked Governor Tom Wolf for his efforts in resolving the impasse.
“Throughout this process, and during my conversations with both sides, the students and families were my focus. Coming to a final agreement was challenging, and it took a lot of effort from everyone involved, but I appreciate PASSHE and APSCUF coming together to reach a final agreement on a contract that is fair for professors and university faculty and the State System,” said Wolf in a released statement.
“We all agree that the higher education of our students is a top priority, and I am thrilled that today students can go back to class and professors can teach them,” he continued.
ESU’s Academic Continuity Plan will allow students to make up for lost instructional time.
“Each faculty member, who was absent due to the strike, will be required to ensure that course work missed as a result of the strike will be adequately covered during the remaining time of the semester. Faculty will develop ‘recovery or work plans’ and revise their syllabi to accommodate the ‘make-up’ assignments,” said Provost Joanne Z. Bruno, J.D. in an email to all students.
Specifics on the tentative agreement have not been released as of print deadline.
However, it includes concessions on “salary and benefits in exchange for eliminating most of the 249 changes the State System proposed in June,” said an APSCUF press release.
If approved by both sides, the new contract will run through June 30, 2018.
“I, for one, will be reaching out to the System to say that this process is broken, and we need to fix it so that students do not get caught in the middle on a cyclical basis,” said Mash in an email to the Stroud Courier.
“I also think the strike had the unintended consequence of creating solidarity and community among faculty and demonstrating to the faculty the amount of affection their students have for them.”
“In the end, if the university leaders were wise, they would market that–that is–how much affection students have for their faculty. I think most students care about their relationships with faculty more than they do about administrators, shiny buildings, fancy dorms, etc. I think it is what makes our universities the great universities they are,” his email continued.
The process to finalize the tentative agreement is expected to conclude by “December or early January,” said PASSHE Spokesman Kenn Marshall.
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