After going without a contract for more than a year, and with their administration withdrawing from negotiation, faculty at Pennsylvania state colleges and universities (but not including Pennsylvania State University, confusingly enough) went on strike Wednesday. The administration is running the usual “oh, those greedy workers” playbook because the faculty don’t want to make concessions on healthcare expenses that other workers have been pressured into.
Union President Ken Mash stood outside the chancellor’s office building Thursday afternoon in Harrisburg to push for a resumption of contract talks.
“If they want to come out and right now and negotiate, we’re willing to go ahead and do that,” Mash said. “But, I don’t want to be totally unfair either, because they do have my cellphone number, so if they want to call later on and say that they’re ready to negotiate, we’re ready to do that too.”
This might have a little something to do with the faculty’s grievances:
State funding for the system, at $444 million this year, is about the same as it was 17 years ago, even as full-time enrollment has risen more than 10 percent.
The union also balks at having to take on other duties without compensation, including a 67 percent increase in the supervision of interns who go into the business world. The increase would raise the annual allotment of interns to 120. The union also balks at cuts to competitive grants for research and professional development. Another issue is the state system’s plan to put part-time adjunct professors on a lower pay scale for the first time. And it objects to changes in the promotion, tenure and grievance rules.
This article originally appeared at DailyKOS.com on October 22, 2016. Reprinted with permission.
Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006. Labor editor since 2011.