Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yes, Mr. Chancellor, We Understand

Well, if the people who run our state system were trying to get the new semester off on a sour note, they sure found a way to do it.

In a letter addressed to PASSHE students, Chancellor Frank Brogan makes a claim that I feel compelled to respond to before the semester starts–my goal here is to help APSCUF faculty think about how to respond when students accuse us, faculty, of not looking out for their interests should we have to strike.

Chancellor Brogan says:

We can only hope that APSCUF recognizes the potentially devastating impact that a strike would have on our students.

Yes, Chancellor Brogan, we understand. We wish you understood as well as we do. We’re the ones who work with the students and faculty across the system every single day. We–the students and the faculty–are the people who do the learning and the teaching that give the system, and hence your office and your staff, any reason to exist. We know our impact because we see it every day: in the classes we teach, in the clubs and services we oversee, in the advisees we mentor; in the athletes we coach. Our impact has been steadily and widely positive and productive through often challenging circumstances. We want to work in an environment that allows us to continue having our positive impacts for years to come

The implications of a strike could, in fact, be devastating. That’s why nobody on the APSCUF side wants to do it. On the other hand, if it takes a strike to make PASSHE understand that we’re not going to sacrifice the integrity of our system or our campuses, that’s a positive implication.

In other words, a strike doesn’t have to happen; all it will take to prevent one is for PASSHE to get to work bargaining in good faith like they should have been doing for more than 400 days now. And if a strike does happen, it will be because APSCUF believes that’s the only way to convince PASSHE  to bargain in good faith. We know better than anybody in some office in Harrisburg what will happen to students if we strike. The people who are gambling blindly with our students’ learning conditions aren’t us.

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Filed under APSCUF, Contract Negotiations, Office of the Chancellor, PASSHE, Uncategorized

A quick note about today’s negotiations update

We hope you’ve seen the update on this week’s negotiations session. It sounds like maybe the work that should have happened a long while ago is maybe starting to happen now. 

​For those of you who are new to this process, here’s a bit of context. It’s typical for negotiations to start slowly, and for us to start making noise about that. Very often, the first visible response to our rumbling is what you’re seeing here–little bits of progress on issues that aren’t too contentious so that management can tell themselves (and us) that they’re trying really hard.  So take the news as good in the sense that something is happening, but remember that it’s happening because we’re pushing and we need to keep doing it.

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Speak up for faculty (and students) at Mount Saint Mary’s University

By now you’ve likely heard the news from Mount Saint Mary’s University about their recently hired president’s plan to improve the university’s retention rates and the aftermath. I’ll summarize below in case you haven’t followed it. If you have but haven’t yet signed this petition to Mount Saint Mary’s University to reinstate two fired faculty members, we encourage you to add your name. It’s an important statement in support of colleagues whose due process and academic freedom have been violated as ominously as any time I can remember.

Here’s a nutshell version of Newman’s retention plan–

  1. Early in the fall semester, identify students who are at risk–academically, emotionally, financially–of leaving the institution.
  2. Encourage them to drop out as quickly as possible so that you never have to report them as matriculated.
  3. Ergo, improve retention by reducing the number of “dropouts.”

[It’s worth a minute to look at President Simon Newman’s background before we keep going. Notice anything missing? Any experience whatsoever with higher ed before being appointed as president of a university. Anywho….]

To make matters worse, President Newman had an email exchange with campus leaders in which he said some controversial (yes, that’s understatement) things, the most disturbing of which was:

“This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”

When that quote showed up in the Washington Post and Inside Higher Ed, the story suddenly became national (read: embarrassing). And when President Newman learned that two faculty members–one tenured, one tenure-track–had leaked emails (one of the faculty was the advisor to the student newspaper), he fired them without any hearings, investigations, or procedures whatsoever. Clearly, his fundamental ignorance about how universities work and what faculty do made it seem logical for him to fire people who were “disloyal” (his word).

This is why we fight to protect tenure (and due process for colleagues with/without tenure). Signing this petition is a simple way to help. Indirectly, it’s also a statement on behalf of students who spent a lot of time, money, and emotional energy committing to a school run by somebody with such profound disregard for their well-being that he could think, much less say, what he did.

PS: In case you’re curious, the president tried to identify students to “drown” via a survey (as reported in Inside Higher Ed) that will make your skin crawl if you know anything about privacy or research ethics.

[Updated 5 pm Fri: The university has announced that it will reinstate the fired faculty in hopes of beginning what the president and board call a healing process; the board has reaffirmed their support of the president. The fired tenured faculty member says he has no intention of returning to the university.]

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Filed under Academic Freedom, Access, free speech, Inside Higher Ed, Retention, Tenure, Uncategorized

Secession legislation information

Interested in knowing how the proposed PASSHE severance legislation will affect faculty and the CBA? Please consult the attached documents:

Faculty – What to Expect from Legislation

Impact of PASSHE Dismantling Proposals

What the Freedom to Secede Proposal Really Does

CBA Implications of Legislation

Legislation Summary

Link to final legislation: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2013&sInd=0&body=s&type=b&bn=1275

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What PA Public Employees Need to Know About “Payroll Protection” Legislation

Over the course of the last several days, you’ve heard from both APSCUF State President Steve Hicks and APSCUF-WCU President Lisa Millhous about legislation called “Payroll Protection.” The legislation (House Bill 1507 and Senate Bill 1034) contends that public employers are wasting taxpayer money by managing payroll deductions for union dues on behalf of public employee unions; sponsors of the legislation (I’ll say more about them later) also contend that because public unions spend dues money on “political activities,” compulsory dues deductions violate employees’ rights to make decisions about what candidates and lobbying activities we pay for.

As this legislation is under consideration and currently seems to have some chance of passing, there are a handful of important points for you to know so that you can help defeat these bills. To put it as directly as possible, there is exactly one goal behind this legislation–to damage public unions’ ability to collect money in order to kill public unions in the Commonwealth. We’ve seen this legislation and its brethren in several states already (WI, MI, OH, IN are the places you’re likely to have heard about it; a friend in graduate school at the University of Oregon just told me the other night that the same legislation is circulating there).

Point One: There is no evidence that managing payroll deductions costs PASSHE any significant amount of money at all. I’m trying to find specifics but can’t yet. But what we do know is that they manage payroll deductions of various kinds, not just APSCUF, and there’s nothing in the legislation targeting those. It’s not hard to make the connection, is it?

Point Two: The main rationale for the bills is that unions use dues for political (campaign and lobbying) purposes, and that automatic deductions violate employees’ rights to determine which candidates and laws their money supports. This is a sad old song. As an APSCUF member, you already know that we have a separate fund, called CAP (the Committee for Action through Politics) that requires a separate, totally optional/voluntary sign-up before any money is deducted from your paycheck. Moreover, APSCUF’s records (just like every union) makes public every penny we spend on political activities–unlike the shadowy political organizations funding the campaign to kill public unions. It’s no secret what we spend our CAP money on; we don’t want it to be. But for you to find out for sure who’s funding Pennsylvanians for Union Reform (among other examples) is damn near impossible. Neat, huh?

Point Three: As the link to the story about secret corporate money suggests, this legislation didn’t begin with the legislators who introduced and co-sponsored it. It’s based very closely on “model legislation” drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council in 1998. If you’ve followed politics at all since the Wisconsin Uprising, you’re probably familiar with ALEC. To be honest, it’s hard to write about ALEC without sounding really paranoid. If you’re not familiar with them, spend a few minutes on their website. Then spend a few minutes here on the website of ALEC Exposed, a project that tracks ALEC policy, contributions, and the people who participate in it.

ALEC’s membership is comprised largely of three constituencies–lobbyists for large corporate interests (along with the non-profit front groups, “think tanks,” and special interest groups) that support them, and politicians (governors, legislators, and so on) who are willing to do ALEC’s bidding in states and Washington, DC. In short, many members of ALEC are actual legislators (and many of them are from the Commonwealth), and in this case what they’ve put on the floor of both chambers in Harrisburg is language provided for them by professional lobbyists and corporate spokespeople whose interests are clearly not the interests of Pennsylvania citizens. These are the people who brought us Stand Your Ground laws and the Castle Doctrine, which allow people to claim “self-defense” if they kill somebody who makes them feel threatened. If their organization, or affiliated organizations, are responsible for the move to revise the PASSHE Weapons Policy, then to say they’re Second Amendment purists is, well, not very accurate.

It’s hard not to spend hours mapping out the impacts of ALEC on the public sector and public safety all over the United States, but the ALEC Exposed website does a good job of it. For APSCUF’s purposes, for now what’s important to know is that this legislation has no grounding in anything that’s happening in PA except that ALEC and its constituent organizations/political friends hate unions, and are going after us just like they have in other states. The arguments about why we need this legislation are, not to put too fine a point on it, without any merit whatsoever. And as Sean Kitchen’s article (linked in Fact Two) indicates, the strongest motive for pushing the bills is the promise of a gigantic infusion of campaign cash into the coffers of politicians who push it. No “savings.” No taxpayer justice. Just anti-union hate and personal greed.

It’s crucial that we defeat this legislation for any number of reasons, not the least of which is to protect our union against a direct attack on our ability to do our work. Contact your Representative AND your Senator, and call on them to vote against these bills. If you learn that your Representative or Senator is a co-sponsor, obviously your tone will be somewhat different. And make sure everybody you know in a public employee union in PA does the same.

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APSCUF Testifies at Weapons Policy Hearing

On and off since 2012 the PASSHE Board of Governors has been considering what a system-wide weapons policy might look like.  Although it has been difficult to find any campus stakeholders who advocate weapons on PASSHE campuses, this is part of an emotional national debate about guns on campus that has been a topic of multiple court rulings.  On Thursday, January 9, 2014 the PASSHE Public Safety and Security Task Force held a hearing that was webcast to  members of the Board of Governors (BOG) and is archived on the web.  APSCUF President Steve Hicks, Vice President Ken Mash, and WCU Chapter President Lisa Millhous made statements at the hearing.  Speaking for students, East Stroudsburg’s Student Government President Justin Amman expressed disappointment that students were excluded from the conversation and the council of SGA Presidents only received the proposed policy this week, so they were unable to formulate a response before the hearing.  At the hearing, PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan indicated that the BOG will *not* be voting on the proposed weapons policy at the January meeting because more work needs to be done to consider the feedback that has been received.  The window for providing feedback is still open (email: publicsafetytaskforce@passhe.edu).

It is APSCUF’s position that the best weapons policy would prohibit weapons in all areas of campus (except for authorized security personnel).  WCU’s Faculty Senate has made public statements opposing a more flexible weapons policy, as has the Commission of PASSHE Presidents.  At this time there are no Pennsylvania laws that address the issue of weapons on college campuses.

Relevant Links:

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Dr. Wanko discusses healthcare proposals

Dr. Cheryl Wanko reviews the healthcare proposals related to the faculty contract negotiations.  CORRECTION: please direct emails to Peter Garland – pgarland@passhe.edu

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