Common ground is fine, but it doesn’t guarantee fairness

By now you’ve probably seen the news out of State APSCUF of management’s announcement that they plan to issue retrenchment letters on all fourteen PASSHE campuses for the 2012-13 school year.

We’ll have plenty more to say about the specifics of that announcement and how we respond to it in the near future; it wasn’t entirely unexpected, but neither do we take it as anything other than hostile.

In the meantime, this morning’s Inside Higher Education features an article on a labor conference last week at which faculty union leaders and university managers got together to talk about how to find common ground from which to advance the mutual interests of universities and systems.

Ironically, the article mentions Pennsylvania specifically as an example of a place where faculty and management ought to fighting together against outrageous budget proposals–and it published one day after management announced that they may retrench faculty all across the system.

Knowing that managers in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and other places actually respect the faculty in their states made this announcement out of PASSHE even that much more toxic.  At a time when we should all be fighting desperately to win over legislators who can protect our budget, and we’re seeing examples of state system managers doing just that, instead the Office of the Chancellor (OOC) is firing shots across the bow.

So what does this mean for you as WCU faculty?  A few things:

1. If you haven’t already written letters and made phone calls to your legislators about the budget, do it NOW.  Our campus management has been with us on these efforts, but the OOC just isn’t.  Don’t wait around for PASSHE to do its thing–do it for them.

2.  Go to rallies and show your face: April 26 in Harrisburg; April 27 at the Courthouse in downtown West Chester; May 3 in Harrisburg.

3.  Continue to get ready for what now appears to be an even nastier negotiations season than we already expected.  Make sure your APSCUF reps know you to find you off-campus.  Try to put a little money aside in case of a job action.  Read the emails that come from State and Local APSCUF because they have information in them you need to know.

One last thing–it’s tempting to be (some combination of) scared, frustrated, and angry at the current state of affairs in our system.  Obviously I can’t dictate your emotional reactions, but I’ll make this pitch (which some of you have heard me say before).  In difficult times, the urge to panic, the urge to withdraw, and the urge to organize/mobilize are exactly the same.  MOBILIZE!  It’s a much healthier response.

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Collective Bargaining, Contract Negotiations, Inside Higher Ed, PASSHE, Public education, Rally, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, West Chester University

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