How long will the strike last? Will the universities close?
The union decides when to go on strike and decides when to end a strike. The universities will make every effort to remain open. This includes courses and programs offered online and at all off-campus locations. During the strike, there may be a need to cancel some classes for a short duration, but the university will remain open. Even if some class sessions need to be cancelled, all efforts will be made to continue the semester and to allow students to complete their coursework within the existing semester calendar.
Would all faculty be required to participate in the strike? Will all classes be cancelled?
No. Individual faculty members would decide for themselves whether to participate in the strike that would be called by the union. By law, faculty have the right to decline to participate and to remain in their classrooms and continue their classes for their students.
What should students do?
Students should plan to report to their regularly scheduled classes. Faculty are not required to strike, so it is important that students report to every scheduled session unless it is determined that the professor is on strike.
Can a faculty member who is on strike continue to hold his/her classes at an alternative, off-campus location?
No. By policy, during a strike, professors/instructors are not allowed to change the meeting site for a class. Students cannot be penalized for refusing to meet at an alternative site; an instructor’s request for students to report to different locations should be reported immediately to the Office of the University President.
Is it appropriate for a faculty member to discuss the faculty labor negotiations, the strike, or related issues in class?
Generally, no. Unless the curriculum is related to these topics, it is not appropriate for a faculty member to discuss labor negotiations and the strike in class. Students should contact the Dean or Provost if this occurs.
Potential impact on campus activities and services
Will university facilities such as the library, computer labs, dining services, residence halls, fitness centers, registrar’s offices, university safety/university police, health and wellness centers, and other administrative offices be open?
Yes. While the university remains open, all of these facilities and offices would remain open to the extent practical. Information about hours for services and facilities especially important to students, as well as other special events for the university community, would be posted on the university’s website.
Will counseling services be available?
Many counseling professionals are faculty and may be on strike. Every effort will be made to refer students to other counseling services available in the area. Refer to the university’s website for that information.
Will extracurricular activities sponsored by the university proceed as scheduled?
Yes, to every extent possible. Additional information will be posted on the university website.
Potential impact on students
How could the strike affect my grade?
For faculty that continue to teach, grades will be issued on the normal schedule. For students in classes that are affected by a faculty member on strike, the issuing of grades may be delayed.
If someone else teaches my class during the strike, will it affect my grade?
As when a faculty member is unable to teach due to illness, the university may have another qualified individual teach the course during the strike. For students in classes affected by a faculty member on strike, the striking faculty member would no longer be the instructor of record for the duration they are on strike. Therefore, the issuing of grades may be delayed. Each university is committed to ensuring students can complete their educational experience.
Will students have to make up classes for the days faculty are on strike?
This would be determined at the conclusion of the strike. All efforts will be made to complete the semester within the current semester calendar, or finding alternative means to complete coursework that would fulfill the university’s commitment to you for your education and to the U.S. Department of Education for your financial aid.
Will a strike affect my December 2016 graduation?
The university will make every effort to work with the December graduates to finish in a timely manner, especially those with military, employment, and graduate school obligations.
If additional class time is scheduled to make up courses missed due to the strike, what happens if I can’t attend the make-up times offered?
The university will make every effort to be as flexible as possible while fulfilling its educational requirements.
Should students with work study jobs continue to report for work in the event of a strike?
Yes. Students with work study jobs or who are otherwise employed by the university should continue to report to work, as the university intends to remain open. If a student works for a faculty member who has not reported for work, the student should report to the Dean’s Office.
Will an internship, student teaching, clinical, or a practicum be affected by the strike? Will students working "in the field" be allowed to continue their field work?
Students should continue to report to their off-campus assignment because many of these kinds of experiences rely on day-to-day oversight by someone who is not employed by the university. If these circumstances change, students will be notified by the university administration.
Will the courses that are cancelled because a faculty member is on strike affect my Financial Aid or GI Bill? Would students receive reimbursement for tuition?
It is important for you to stay enrolled and attend classes. The university is committed to ensuring you receive your education, credits, and grades for the semester.
Every attempt will be made at its conclusion to complete the semester within the current semester calendar. If this occurs, there will be no change to your financial aid or student bill.
If the faculty strike prevents the university from completing the semester within the semester calendar, there could be an impact on student financial aid. Each university is committed to ensuring students can complete their educational experience, even if it means extending the semester through normal breaks and beyond the official end date, or finding alternative means to complete the course that would fulfill the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements. If that is not possible, affected students may receive a tuition refund. This means there may be an adjustment to your student bill that could affect your financial aid award for the semester.
Please note that, even in a situation of a prolonged strike, each student’s experience will be different depending on how many of his/her instructors participate in the strike. This may result in some students being able to complete some or all classes within the regular semester, while others might not. Each situation might have a different result on student billing and financial aid.
The university will provide continual updates to students on this matter.
Would students be given online courses to finish the semester?
There are currently no plans to alter the method of delivery of courses, i.e., switching face-to-face classes to online, or vice versa.
Other questions about negotiations
How far apart are the two sides? What needs to happen for an agreement to be reached?
From the State System’s perspective, the two sides are no further apart than in past contract negotiations. Agreement needs to be reached on issues such as faculty salaries, healthcare, and the need to reduce costs and increase flexibility at a time when the State System and the universities are facing the most serious fiscal challenges in their collective history.
Other than salary and healthcare, what are the other changes the State System is proposing?
While salaries and benefits are among the most important issues in collective bargaining, equally important are so-called “work rules.” There are provisions in the contract between the State System and APSCUF that must be updated to address the needs of our existing and future students. The System has proposed a range of options that would provide the universities greater flexibility to meet those needs. Click HERE to see the State System’s current proposals.
Why have the negotiations taken so long?
The State System and APSCUF have been negotiating for almost two years. Initially, the two sides spent the majority of the time discussing a one-year extension to the contract that expired on June 30, 2015. The State System offered APSCUF essentially the same terms mutually agreed upon by other unions and the System, which would have included raises or cash payments to all faculty in January 2016 in exchange for healthcare plan changes, which the faculty union turned down. In early spring, the two sides began talking exclusively about a long-term agreement. All told, State System and APSCUF negotiators have met about three dozen times.
If Pennsylvania is ranked 47th in the nation in terms of state funding for higher education, why are you not focused on trying to get more funding?
We are. The State System constantly advocates for additional funding from the Commonwealth. The Board of Governors, the Chancellor and his staff, the university presidents, trustees, faculty, staff and students spend a significant amount of time advocating for increased state funding, meeting frequently with legislators and members of the administration. In fact, the State System received increases in state funding in each of the last two years. Prior to that, the System had not received an increase in seven years as the state dealt with the effects of the recession that began in 2008. The State System continues to seek new investment from the state. The Board of Governors recently approved a 2017-18 appropriation request that seeks a $61 million increase (13.7 percent) from the State.
Why did other employees (including the presidents and the chancellor) receive a pay raise last year, yet the faculty did not?
Last year, the Commonwealth negotiated a one-year contract extension with its largest union (AFSCME), which included pay raises and healthcare savings. Following that pattern, the State System offered its unions similar one-year extensions that in each case included a pay raise in exchange for healthcare savings. Extensions were agreed to by all of the other unions, except APSCUF faculty and coaches, both of which turned them down. Non-union employees (including the presidents and the chancellor) were provided similar pay raises in exchange for similar healthcare savings as those the other unions who agreed to the extensions received.
Why is the State System proposing to lower the quality of education while tuition continues to rise?
We are not. Ensuring a high-quality, affordable education is our mission. The State System has proposed a number of contract changes intended to update a decades-old contract as a way to better address the needs of current-day students and to enhance their educational experience. Our proposals support the System’s strategic plan to adapt to the ever-changing needs of students. Click HERE to see the full list of current proposals from the State System.