PASSHE declines APSCUF request for binding arbitration in contract talks
Citing both PASSHE’s responsibility under Act 188 and the success it already has achieved through normal negotiations with five of its other bargaining units, the State System has declined a request from its faculty union to submit to binding arbitration to decide final terms of a new contract. PASSHE Chancellor Dr. John C. Cavanaugh notified the president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) of the System’s decision and encouraged the union to continue negotiating.
In a letter to Dr. Stephen Hicks, the chancellor wrote:
“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.”
The chancellor also fully endorsed PASSHE’s latest proposal to APSCUF, 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.
Modifications to the PASSHE health care plan to align it with the Pennsylvania Employee Benefit Trust Fund (PEBTF), the health care plan operated by the Commonwealth. Membership in PEBTF includes 80,000 Commonwealth employees, including the Governor and other executive branch personnel and almost 4,300 PASSHE employees. Any changes made to the PASSHE health care plan would be applied to all of the approximately 8,400 PASSHE employees covered by the plan, including not just faculty, but also the university health center nurses and physicians, campus police and security officers and managers, administrators and executives.
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 the faculty contract in 1999, at a time when virtually no online courses were being offered. Far more PASSHE faculty today have the requisite skills to develop and revise online courses and literally hundreds are being offered, negating the need for the original concept. No such incentive payments are made for the development or redesign of traditional, face-to-face courses.
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 University. This is necessary to begin to address the growing retiree health care liability, which currently is $1.4 billion.
An 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. APSCUF refused to allow its members to participate in the program when it was first offered. All other employee groups did participate in the completely voluntary program, which resulted in approximately $10 million in annual savings to the System.
PASSHE enrollment declines slightly, reflecting demographic changes in Commonwealth
With an undergraduate population made up of almost 90 percent Pennsylvania residents, PASSHE’s enrollment history has been closely tied to demographic trends in the Commonwealth. PASSHE’s Fall 2012 enrollment figures reflect the impact of a significant decline in the number of students graduating from public high schools in Pennsylvania. Based on estimates from the National Center for Education Statistics, there were about 9,500 fewer high school graduates in Pennsylvania this past spring than in spring 2011, a decline of approximately 7 percent. The impact is especially pronounced in Western Pennsylvania.
On the positive side, PASSHE universities have expanded their outreach to returning adults and nontraditional students, demographic groups that have been increasing. The universities are offering programs designed specifically to address their needs and the needs of employers within host communities and the Commonwealth.
PASSHE enrollment by the numbers:
• Total headcount enrollment – 114,784
• Undergraduate enrollment – 100,663 (88 percent)
• Graduate enrollment – 14,121 (12 percent)
• Minority students – 17,430 (16 percent)
• Transfer students – 7,312 (44 percent from community colleges; 7 percent from state-related universities)
• Pennsylvania resident students – 100,609 (88 percent)
• Pennsylvania public high school graduates –130,285 (2011), 120,781 (2012)
Cal U.’s Government Agency Coordination Office helps local businesses secure contracts
The Government Agency Coordination Office (GACO) of California University of Pennsylvania is a Procurement Technical Assistance Center that assists companies in the region interested in pursuing federal, state and local government contracting and subcontracting opportunities. The office also helps local businesses explore export opportunities.
GACO has a client base of more than 1,600 businesses. To date, the office has assisted companies obtain more than $2.8 billion in contracts.
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