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Faculty At 14 State Owned Universities Overwhelmingly Approved A New Union Contract

Keith Srakocic
In this photo made on Friday, May 24, 2019, Old Main, right, is shown on the campus of Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pa..

Faculty in Pennsylvania’s state-owned university system are giving their approval to a new four-year union contract.

Ninety-four percent of faculty at the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities voted last week to ratify the contract. Details haven’t been made public but will be posted online if it’s approved by the state system’s board of governors. The board is expected to meet in January.

Union president Ken Mash wouldn’t specify changes, but said faculty agreed to what he describes as a lower pay increase in order to keep tuition costs down.

“But also as an act of good faith, to try to get the legislature and the governor to raise our allocation to a reasonable amount,” he said.

The state system faces a $60 million shortfall. This year the legislature approved a 2 percent allocation increase. The system then froze tuition for the first time in 20 years saying universities can’t rely on students to fill the gap.

“It is simply unacceptable for Pennsylvania to be last or near last on every measure of state support for public higher education. We have done our part, and now it is time for the governor and the legislature to do their part to properly support our universities at a level that enables us to make public higher education a truly affordable option for working-class Pennsylvanians,” he said in a statement.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties union covers about 5,000 faculty members at Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania.

The union also represents 500 coaches who are negotiating a contract this week.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.