Clarion, Pa. – As the faculty contract reaches its expiration date in a hostile climate of recession and anti-union politics in other states, Clarion’s chapter of the Association of
Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty gears up for negotiation of an amended contract with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
Clarion University’s APSCUF president Jamie Phillips began negotiations with PASSHE representatives Feb. 11, through a conference call.
Phillips hopes for a similar meeting on Feb. 25.
Phillips said he expects “little progress” from the Feb. 25 preliminary talk, and said, “we are not going to be talking about money at any time” during that meeting
Phillips, like countless others working in the public sector, awaits the state budget before making serious plans for his organization.
Phillips said one of the main concern of the negotiations will be Article 29 of the contract, one that addresses the policies of retrenchment.
Retrenchment is the process of cutting costs to increase financial stability. In the case of public universities, this includes cutting programs and laying off faculty and staff.
Last year, three PASSHE schools, Kutztown, Millersville and East Stroudsburg Universities experienced retrenchment.
“I don’t think either side is very satisfied with the current article,” Phillips said. “It’s the longest in the contract.”
Phillips said the circumstances the article defines as a reason for retrenchment are vague. He said another aim of the negotiations was to bolster the autonomy of state schools in
curriculum management and requirements.
“Clarion’s going to have to distinguish itself from other universities,” Phillips said, “if it’s going to continue to attract students and teachers.”