Harrisburg – Negotiations between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) resume tomorrow. PASSHE Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Labor Relations Gary Dent provided the following statement as the two sides prepare to meet:
“As we get set to return to the bargaining table tomorrow, we do so with a sense of cautious optimism that we are within reach of an agreement with APSCUF that is fair, that is affordable and that positions the System to continue to provide a quality education for years to come.
“PASSHE’s number one focus is protecting the interests of our students and their families who provide nearly three-fourths of the revenue needed to operate our universities. There is a limit to the amount of costs we can ask our students to absorb, especially in areas that are not directly related to the classroom.
“We have completed the compensation package portion of the agreement, which historically has been the last item in negotiations. There are, however, a small but significant number of issues yet to be resolved, including active and retiree healthcare, distance education and a new, optional plan for annuitant health care.
“As we have maintained throughout this more than two year process, increases in healthcare costs for both active and retired employees, combined with rapidly rising pension costs, are placing unsustainable financial pressure on the universities. In this regard, PASSHE is no different from the federal or state governments, or most other organizations, all of which have identified increasing costs in these areas as urgent problems that must be addressed.
“As we resume our negotiations tomorrow, we remain optimistic that we will resolve these issues quickly and fairly so that we can get back to working together on what matters most – continuously enhancing the quality of education our students receive.”
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 115,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. Nearly 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center.