HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The union for more than 5,000 faculty and coaches at 14 of Pennsylvania’s state universities is officially on strike.
The strike impacts more than 100,000 students.
The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, APSCUF, represents about 5,500 faculty and coaches at the State System universities: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania.
The group announced it on Twitter:
The strike began at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, as scheduled.
Members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties union have never before walked out during the state system’s 34-year history.
“At 11:35 p.m., we made a last attempt to negotiate through back channels,” Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said in a statement released after the strike began Wednesday morning.
“We waited until 5 a.m. We are headed to the picket lines, but even on the picket lines, our phones will be on, should the State System decide it doesn’t want to abandon its students.”
The faculty union had been working without a contract since June of last year, and after heavy negotiations the past few days decided to decline what the State System of Higher Education called a final offer leading to a strike that impacts more than 100,000 students in the state according to Dr. Kenneth Mash.
“The governor urged us to keep on negotiating. He was very clear about that. He personally spoke to both sides and urged us to settle this,” said Mash. “I find it shocking that Chancellor Frank Brogan would spit in the governor’s eye like that. Through all of this, the governor has been a strong advocate for the students.”
The two sides were unable to reach agreement on proposed raises and health care contributions.
Students at those 14-universities are being told to report to class unless their university tells them otherwise, but many classes will likely be cancelled as finding replacement for the nearly 5,500 faculty and coaches on short notice will be a challenge.
The APSCUF issued a few statements Facebook page Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Read their full statement here- http://cbsloc.al/2dzyKGs .
On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf released a statement which said in part:
“I am extremely disappointed in the failure of PASSHE and APSCUF to reach an agreement on a contract. The resulting strike is detrimental to the system and will have far-reaching effects for years to come.’ Read full statement
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education says:
“The System remains committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to everyone, especially students.”
West Chester University has posted a page full of information for students regarding the strike.
KYW Newsradio’s Dan Wing contributed to this report.