The following are a brief synopsis and answers to some frequently asked questions about the possible strike at WCU. Note, APSCUF is the union that represents both faculty and coaches on our campus and is negotiating two different contracts with the Chancellor of PASSHE. Neither is settled as of this posting, but the questions below refer to the faculty contract only.
How long has this been going on? The faculty have have worked for 18 months since their contract expired. Part of the reason that this has taken so long is because Chancellor John Cavanaugh repeatedly sends his negotiators to the table without information. So, although we meet to resolve our differences, the state bargaining team is typically unprepared to offer counter-proposals or even respond to proposals we have made.
What are the issues that the two sides disagree on? Of course, both sides can change their offers at any time so the disagreement continually evolves and changes. There has been general agreement on faculty compensation, except for the issue of pay for part-time adjunct faculty. Faculty continue to push for conditions that will maintain quality education at the university. Faculty are concerned that we have some say in how large our classes are; we want responsible use of distance education that gives faculty funding to develop interesting and interactive online courses; we are concerned that the Chancellor is unfairly shifting the costs of our healthcare; and we want a healthcare program that will allow us to retire (rather than work into retirement to afford healthcare). All of these issues affect whether or not WCU can recruit and retain the best faculty for students to learn from, and whether your classroom environment will be the quality you expect from West Chester University.
What can I do? Write to Chancellor John Cavanaugh (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let him know that it is important to you that he bargain in good faith and reach an agreement before the Spring semester begins. Visit PAstudentsvoice.org to sign up to receive updates (there is also a Facebook page and Twitter feed). Read the latest updates at the APSCUF blog.
What would happen if the faculty went on strike during the semester? Classes would not meet during a strike. All of the non-faculty employees at WCU are required to work, so buildings would be open and offices would still function. Faculty would form picket lines to block certain campus entrances. Once the strike was settled or called off, classes would resume and the President of the university would make a decision about whether to extend the semester or how to make up the missed days.
Would a strike prevent me from graduating? Faculty build our careers by graduating students like you who go on to have their own careers; We are doing everything we can to avoid harming your graduation. However, if we go on strike, we don’t entirely control the length of the strike, nor do we make the decision about how the semester will be made up. If WCU does not honor your tuition payment by providing you with the instruction for you to earn the credits, then you would have grounds to request your tuition back (even if it is past the deadline for refunds).
But the best thing you can do is help the faculty prevent a strike by contacting the Chancellor, having your parents contact him, and asking your PA legislators to advocate on your behalf. The faculty care about the quality of education at WCU — your education. Will you stand with us?