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Information on Contract Negotiations

January 26, 2013

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Cheyney University of Pennsylvania established this website to provide the latest information regarding contract negotiations between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF).    Of the seven bargaining units that PASSHE has a collective bargaining agreement with, APSCUF is the only one without an agreement to date.

PASSHE and Cheyney University hope the faculty contract will be rectified well in advance of any labor action.  In the event of a labor action, however, Cheyney University has a strike contingency plan that would be put into place.  It is our primary concern to ensure that our students continue moving toward their degrees. 

 Click here  http://www.apscuf.com/ to access the APSCUF webpage. 


Click here to access the PASSHE contract
negotiations webpage
http://www.passhe.edu/inside/ne/pnp/Pages/Negotiation_Updates.aspx 

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A Letter to CU Students and Parents 

 

FROM:  Dr. Michelle R. Howard-Vital

DATE:   January 23, 2013

Re:  Communication from PASSHE

SUBJECT:  Faculty Negotiations

 

As we get set to welcome our students back to campus for the start of spring semester, some may be wondering if their professors will meet them in the classroom.

Understandably, over winter break, the status of negotiations between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) has drawn increased attention from students and their families.  First and foremost, students should know that we have a plan in place should a faculty strike occur.  Updates on the status of negotiations will be on the University website www.cheyney.edu and sent via email when necessary.

Students and their families should also know that PASSHE is committed to achieving a new collective bargaining agreement with APSCUF that is fair, that is affordable and that positions the State System to continue to provide an affordable, quality education for years to come.  PASSHE leadership has made it clear throughout these negotiations that its number one focus is representing the interests of students and their families who provide nearly three-fourths of the revenue needed to operate the universities.

PASSHE has put a very reasonable compensation package for faculty on the table while also making it clear that it needs savings to offset the increased costs to the universities and, ultimately, to our students and their families.  Two major cost drivers for our universities are the health care benefits we provide to both active and retired employees.  If these aren’t addressed, these costs threaten to overwhelm the system and take away resources that could otherwise be used to improve and modernize our educational offerings to ensure students succeed.

PASSHE has offered a number of health care plan options with the goal of more closely aligning the system with the same health care plan that the Commonwealth’s 80,000 employees – including the Governor and his cabinet – all have.  The changes could result in lower premiums while ensuring that all PASSHE employees  receive benefits comparable to those received by other state employees. 

For future, not current, employees,  PASSHE has proposed to offer an optional health care account similar to the current option available for a retirement account.   The change, which would begin to address a more than $1.4 billion outstanding financial obligation in this area, would apply only to employees hired after July 1, 2013.

The bottom line is that PASSHE and APSCUF must resolve these issues quickly and fairly so that we can get back to focusing on how best to continuously enhance the quality of our academic programs as well as the educational experience of our students.  There are far more important things for our students to be focused on when they return to class on Monday, January 28.

I look forward to your arrival on campus and to an exciting spring semester at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

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A Letter to CU Students, Parents and Staff

FROM:  Gwen Owens, Director of Public Relations and Constituent Development
DATE:   November 20, 2012
SUBJECT:  Faculty/Coaches Negotiations
 

Over the weekend it was announced that the membership of APSCUF, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, voted to authorize a strike.  As a result, some students and staff have voiced concerns and raised relevant questions.

It’s important to note that the strike vote, taken last week at all 14 state-owned universities, does not mean that there will be a strike - in fact, it means only that the university APSCUF chapter presidents have been given the authorization by their members to call for a strike at a later date if an impasse is reached. At the present time, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and APSCUF continue to negotiate on a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the agreements that expired June 30, 2011.  The next negotiation sessions are set for December 11 and December 19.

Cheyney University and PASSHE remain hopeful that the parties will be able to reach an agreement and that no job action on the part of APSCUF represented employees is necessary. Should a strike occur, Cheyney University would activate its contingency plan and remain open for business.  Although the union has taken a strike authorization vote during past negotiations, the State System of Higher Education has never had a faculty union strike.

Cheyney will provide students and staff with appropriate updates as information becomes available.  Additional updates regarding the status of negotiations can be located at the following web addresses:    www.cheyney.edu      www.apscuf.com   and http://www.passhe.edu/inside/ne/pnp/Pages/Negotiation_Updates.aspx

If after reviewing the above websites you have additional questions, please email me at
gowens@cheyney.edu
or Sheilah Vance, Chief of Staff and Deputy to the President at svance@cheyney.edu

Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving!

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Contract Negotiations FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Does the faculty strike authorization vote mean there definitely will be a faculty union strike?
          The strike authorization vote taken by the faculty union in mid-November does not automatically mean there will be a strike.  The faculty union took similar votes during each of the last three rounds of negotiations; none resulted in a strike.


2. How will people know if a strike is called?
          If a strike by the faculty union appears imminent, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education will be in regular communication with students and university employees.


3. Will the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities, including Cheyney University, close if a strike is called?
          The universities will remain open, to the extent possible, if a faculty strike is called. By law, individual faculty members have the right to decline to participate in a strike called by the union so individual classes could still be held. Each university has a contingency plan it would implement in the event of a strike. The goal of every contingency plan is to keep the campuses open, to ensure students and employees are safe and to keep students on schedule toward the completion of their degrees.


4. What should students do if a faculty strike is called?
          If the faculty union calls a strike, students will be expected to report to all of their classes. Individual faculty members may choose to continue teaching. Students should check the CU website for the latest information.


5. Should students with on-campus work-study jobs continue to report for work?
          Yes. Students with on-campus work-study jobs would need to continue to report to work, as the university would remain open if a strike was called. If a student works for a faculty member who has not reported for work, the student should report to his/her college's Dean's office.


6. Will university facilities such as, the library, computer labs, dining services, residence halls, fitness center, registrar's office, Public Safety, Health Center, and other administrative offices be open in the event of a strike?
          Yes. To the extent practical, the university would remain open so all of these facilities and offices would remain open. All employees represented by other unions are required to work in the event of a strike by faculty and/or coaches. Information about extended hours for services and facilities especially important to students, as well as other special events (films, lectures, etc.) for the university community would be posted on the university website as information was received.


7. Will an internship or a practicum be affected by a strike?
          Because individual faculty may choose to continue teaching during a strike called by the union, this would be determined on a case-by case basis.


8.  What about extracurricular activities that are sponsored by the university - will they go on as scheduled?
          Yes, to every extent possible. In the case that a program or event is dependent upon a faculty member who would choose to go on strike, and this event was canceled, this information would be posted on the CU webpage calendar and/or sent in an email blast campus-wide.


9.  How would the latest information regarding a strike be disseminated?
          The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's website would be updated regularly with information regarding the status of negotiations. If a faculty strike occurs, information about operation of the CU main and Center City campuses would be posted on the CU website and sent in an email blast.


10.  How will our lost time be made up in the event of a strike?
          If it becomes necessary to make up classes, in the event of a short strike, classes may be rescheduled or alternative work may be assigned.  This issue will be addressed at the conclusion of a strike, when faculty members return to the classroom.
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Oct. 17, 2012

  • PASSHE message to student government presidents:

I have heard from a number of you today requesting guidance on the status of negotiations between the State System and APSCUF, our faculty union.

First, please allow me to provide you with some background information. PASSHE employees are represented by seven separate labor unions. We have reached final or tentative agreements with six of them. In fact, we announced a tentative agreement with SCUPA today, the union which represents admissions, financial aid, residence life, and other student support services. Each of the settled contracts is structured to assure that any new costs incurred are offset as much as possible with savings through redesigned health care benefits or changes in how work is done. 

APSCUF's most recent contract with PASSHE expired on June 30, 2011. In the absence of a new contract, the faculty has been working under the terms of the old contract. That means no salary increases, changes in benefits, etc. There is no timeline on how long this situation can continue. 

We are very mindful of the fact that nearly three-fourths of the revenues for your university come from tuition and fees, with the remainder covered by our annual state appropriation. We are also aware that many of our students and their families are finding it difficult to pay for increases in those costs.

 APSCUF recently requested that we enter into binding arbitration to reach a final agreement on a new contract. What that would mean is a neutral third party would be appointed by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to decide the terms of the contract. We denied this request because of our major concern that the neutral party would not be bound to consider the financial ability of PASSHE to pay for its decisions. We also believe the negotiating process works. 

That brings us to this week. You should have received a message from the Chancellor's Office yesterday that contains information about the PASSHE and APSCUF current bargaining positions. Your university contact and/or the Office of the Chancellor will update you as events change.

We have asked the university presidents to designate a contact person to be available to answer questions. Please see a list of the university contacts at the end of this message. We will provide the remaining contact information as soon as it is available. I encourage you to reach out to these contacts to help you in responding to questions you might get from your fellow students. You also can refer other students to these individuals so they may speak with them directly.

The leadership of APSCUF is holding a legislative council meeting on Saturday. It is our understanding that there might be a strike authorization vote taken at that meeting. It is important for you to know that this is NOT A VOTE TO STRIKE. It is a step in the process that must be taken before a strike vote actually could be taken. The next bargaining sessions are scheduled for October 22, November 2, and November 9.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Karen Ball
Vice Chancellor for External Relations
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
717-720-4053
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Letter from the Chancellor on October 15, 2012

Dear Dr. Hicks:

Thank you for your letter of September 25, 2012. After a review of your request for binding arbitration, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) must decline your offer. Under the provisions of PASSHE’s enabling legislation, Act 188, the Board of Governors and I have fiduciary and legal duties to assure that the system is operated in a transparent and fiscally responsible manner. We believe it would be improper to delegate those responsibilities to a third party arbitrator who does not have the responsibility or duty to consider the financial implications of their decisions and who is not obligated to take into account the interests of Pennsylvania taxpayers or the long-term effects of those decisions on the Commonwealth or PASSHE.

We also considered the following in making our decision:

  • Based on our ability to reach agreements with five of our bargaining units, we remain committed to the negotiating process.
  • We fully endorse our proposal presented at the October 5th bargaining session which contains the following elements:
  • Salary increases consistent with the Commonwealth pattern established with the AFSCME bargaining unit as well as step increments for faculty moving up the salary schedule, annual cash payments for faculty at the top of the pay range, and an increase in compensation for summer employment. In addition, the proposal provides summer, winter and overload compensation tied to the current academic year’s salary structure.
  • Modifications to the PASSHE health care plan to make it more aligned with the PEBTF benefit plan. Membership in PEBTF includes 80,000 Commonwealth employees including the Governor and other executive branch personnel and almost 4,300 of 12,700 PASSHE employees.
  • Realignment of pay for temporary faculty to better reflect regional rates at other higher education institutions while assuring that PASSHE universities remain competitive employers.
  • Final phase-out of the distance education incentive payments originally inserted into an agreement in 1999. PASSHE distance education programs and online courses have significantly grown since that time, and far more faculty have the requisite skills to revise a course, which negate the need for the original concept.
  • A proposal to shift to a defined contribution model of funding retiree health benefits for future new hires only, similar to the model recently adopted by Penn State. This is necessary to begin to address the growing retiree health care liability which currently is $1.4 billion.
  • Offer to reopen the one-time retirement incentive program offered to eligible employees in 2010 if the successor collective bargaining agreement is ratified by APSCUF members by December 31, 2012.

PASSHE believes that the collective bargaining process is the best way to reach an agreement and we remain committed to reaching a fair and affordable contract.  

Dr. John C. Cavanaugh

Chancellor