Category Archives: West Chester University

We didn’t sing the Helplessness Blues – we were an advocating machine!

Fleet Foxes has a song that just about sums up my feelings about the strike. We have all been taught that we are “something unique”, and we are. But we are also part of something beyond ourselves, and this year, it was the mighty, mighty union, APSCUF.

What strikes me now is that as chapter president, I was indeed a “cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.” From the students and faculty who worked on campus to the 14-campus group we were all part of, from my local executive council and our officers and strike team up to the state leadership, it was awe-inspiring to be in the middle of a movement. Let’s not forget that.

So, enjoy this song. It may not be your stylistic cup of tea, but it’s mighty inspiring.

Solidarity forever!

Mark

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Filed under APSCUF, Collective Bargaining, Communities, Contingent faculty, Contract Negotiations, Higher Ed history, liberal arts, lobbying, Public education, Public employee unions, Teacher unions, Tenure, Unions, VoteSmart.org, West Chester University

What the Strike Authorization Vote Means

In just a little while, voting will open across the entire state system to authorize APSCUF leadership to declare a strike should contract negotiations not make sufficient progress.

There’s been no shortage of information on the substance of the negotiations, so I won’t rehearse all that again here. Instead, I want to reinforce the importance of the vote itself so that we won’t have to cajole you more than once (or maybe twice) to do it.

A successful strike authorization sends two messages. First and most concretely, it signals to our leadership that we’re behind them, that we want them to stand strong for fairness, for our students, our system, and for us. Second, it announces to the state system that we really mean it. We don’t want to strike,  but we will. In other words, this week’s vote is the time for us to make a loud and clear statement of solidarity to both our own leaders and the state system folks.

In order for the statement to be loud and clear, it has to be loud and clear (While that may sound circular, I’d rather think of it as mutually reinforcing). That’s why our local officers, Mobilization Committee members, and department reps will be knocking on doors, calling and emailing–doing anything and everything we can to get our turnout to 100%.

If you find that irritating, you can do two things that are helpful. First, VOTE!!!!!!!! You can cast ballots at these times/places on North and South Campus and the Graduate Business Center; information about Exton and Center City is forthcoming.

Wednesday 9 – 11:             Main Hall, Sykes Lobby, Sturzebecker
Wednesday 11 – 1:             Main, Hall, Sykes, Lobby, Sturzebecker
Wednesday 1 – 3:               Main, Hall, Sykes, Lobby, Sturzebecker
Wednesday 3 – 5:               Main, Hall, Sykes, Lobby, Sturzebecker
Wednesday 3:30 – 5:          Graduate Business Center

Thursday, 9 – 11:                 Main Hall, Sykes Lobby, Sturzebecker, Graduate
Business Center
Thursday, 11 – 1:                 Main Hall, Sykes Lobby, Sturzebecker
Thursday 1 – 3:                    Main Hall, Sykes Lobby, Sturzebecker
Thursday, 3 – 5:                   Main Hall, Sykes Lobby, Sturzebecker
Thursday 3:30 – 5:               Graduate Business Center

Friday 9 – 11:                        Main Hall, Sykes Lobby, Sturzebecker
Friday 9 – 10:45:                  Swope Hall
Friday 11 – 12:                     Main Hall, Sykes Lobby, Sturzebecker

Second, and just as important, GET OTHER PEOPLE TO VOTE! If everybody who sees this post gets a couple of other people to go with you to vote, we’ll be near 100% without having to spend three days scurrying around and irritating you into doing it :).

Finally, for anybody who sees this soon–if you’re at WCU and not committed at 10 am, join us at the APSCUF office for a march to the Quad that will help to kick off the vote.

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Filed under APSCUF, Collective Bargaining, Contract Negotiations, PASSHE, Strike Authorization, West Chester University

Contact the House Government Committee — and tell your Representative

It is critical that we contact members of the House Government Committee today (6/12/12) to stop HB 2442, 2443, 2444, and 2446.  In the coming week, we need to contact our legislators so that the bills do not continue in the process of becoming law.  Many lawmakers are trying to limit the amount of multi-recipient email messages so you will need to send some of them individual messages.  I am providing a sample letter and clickable contact names below.

Now is the time to be active!

In Solidarity,

Lisa Millhous, President of WCU APSCUF

  • House Bill 2442: Deregulates student activity fees, no longer making them mandatory for any student to pay. Students can elect not to pay by signing a form at the start of each semester.
  • House Bill 2443: Prohibits institutions from providing free or reduced tuition for spouses, children, same sex partners, or relatives of employees of the institution or any other.
  • House Bill 2444: Prohibits the System from executing any contract for construction, repair, renovation and maintenance projects, unless the System submits a written request for an exception to the Department of General Services and the department determines, in writing, that an emergency exists and failure to execute a contract would be detrimental to the health or safety of students, employees, or the public.
  • House Bill 2446: Prohibits paid sabbaticals for professors.

TO:  Members of the House Government Committee (clickable links after message)

SUBJECT:  Vote No on HB 2442, 2443, 2444, and 2446

Dear Members of the House Government Committee –

Each of these bills (HB 2442, 2443, 2444, and 2446) will independently harm the State-owned universities, whom you have been entrusted as a steward for the People of this Commonwealth.  Together with the other bills of the so-called “keep tuition affordable” legislative package they jeopardize my ability as a faculty member to help my students achieve their full potential.  Without funding and the ability to generate funding there is no way that we can maintain our quality.

These bills will have far-reaching ramifications and deserve thoughtful debate.  Please take the time to be a good steward of our public resources and consider the destructive outcome that could occur as a result of these bills.

I urge you to vote NO for HB 2442, 2443, 2444, and 2446.  These bills are not ready to leave committee.

Sincerely,
Lisa Millhous
Taxpayer in the Commonwealth of PA and Employee of West Chester University of PA

TO:  dmetcalf@pahousegop.com; eevankov@pahousegop.com; ggrell@pahousegop.com; mhahn@pahousegop.com; rkauffma@pahousegop.com; Tkrieger@pahousegop.com; mmustio@pahousegop.com; broae@pahousegop.com; jstern@pahousegop.com;

Committee Leadership:

Committee Members:

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Filed under Access, APSCUF, Benefits/Benefit Cuts, Education reform, Public education, public employees, West Chester University

Preserving Quality Higher Education in PA: Our story so far…

[A message from APSCUF-WCU President Lisa Millhous–I just posted it!]

Preserving Quality Public Higher Education in PA: Our story so far…

[Skip ahead to find out what you can do]

On February 7 Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett proposed his 2012-13 state budget that cuts PASSHE (including West Chester University) by $82.5 million, cuts grants and loans for students (PHEAA) by $27.2 million, and cuts many other educational programs from pre-kindergarten to Ph.D. candidates.
Email the Governor and let him know restoring the funding matters to your family.

On February 29 the PA Senate held a budget hearing for PA State System schools (PASSHE). Senate Appropriations Chair Jake Corman was supportive of restoring funding to the State System. He has said that the State-owned universities have already shouldered their share of the cuts.
Email Senator Cormanto thank him for his support of PASSHE.

On February 29 and March 1 WCU students rallied to show their concern about the budget cuts. Over 1000 post cards were sent to the Governor and more than 500 registered PA voters signed a petition asking their legislators not to approve a budget that cuts education.
Look up your legislators and email them to let them know how important state funding is for your family.

On March 5 the PA House of Representatives held a budget hearing for PASSHE. House Appropriations Chair Bill Adolph also was supportive of the State System and suggested the House would try and reduce the cuts that the Governor had proposed.
Email Representative Adolph and thank him for his support of PASSHE.

Although many have criticized the cuts to higher education, Governor Corbett continues to defend his position. Unfortunately, he regularly uses inaccurate information to support the arguments for cutting higher education. Email the Governor and let him know how restoring the funding would matter to your family.

What can you do?

On March 28th several busses of WCU students and faculty will join students and faculty from all 14 schools in Harrisburg to ask the PA Legislature to restore funding for education.
To see if there is room on the bus, email the WCU APSCUF Office.

On April 24 you can vote in the PA Primary Election (3/26 is the last day to register to vote). A strong student turn-out in the primary will send a message to Harrisburg that we will be out in force in November. And we will remember how the legislature handled the budget this year.

In May and early June we need to find ways to keep our issue alive for the Legislature even though our semester will be over and many students will be home.
You can register to receive text messages or email updates to join our student activities.

WCU Rally videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86zJaSoKKU

http://westchester.patch.com/articles/video-west-chester-students-protest-budget-cuts#video-9228789

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, lobbying, PASSHE, Program elimination, Rally, Tom Corbett, Uncategorized, West Chester University

Starting to think about strategy and tactics for the upcoming budget battle

As you should know by now, Governor Corbett has put in a request that PASSHE return about $20 million of our 2011-2012 budget allocation to the state. That’s on the heels, remember, of a 19% reduction in our budget already, and in spite of a sizeable rainy day fund that’s designed precisely to respond to situations like this one.

You should also know by now that the Governor’s next budget proposal address is scheduled for February 7. In it, we have no reason to believe he’ll do anything other than propose idiotically draconian budget cuts again for next year. Clearly he has no interest in the health or quality of public higher education in his state, even though his job mandates that he must. And just as clearly, nobody in the Office of the Chancellor or the on the Board of Governors seems inclined to fight with him about this anywhere near as avidly as the situation calls for. Their track record is terrible, so we shouldn’t expect much help from that direction. As long as we have an unsettled contract situation, anything the state does to butcher the budget strengthens PASSHE’s bargaining position (in their myopic calculus), so…

It’s clear, therefore, that just like last year, the brunt of beating back these budget attacks falls on the students, faculty, staff (thank heavens AFSCME is generally pretty well-organized!), and communities in which our universities operate. The people who actually depend on the success of the universities, that is, in the most direct and obvious ways have to be the ones who keep it from being devastated by any number of politicos who seem simply not to care what happens to it. As long as junket jobs exist, and as long as there’s a system that acts as a pawn in the chess game that seems to pass for budget and policy debates in the Commonwealth, they’re happy.

With all that said, although we have a lot of work to do over the next several months, I want to emphasize in the rest of this post one basic concept that I think needs to frame everything else we do. And that concept is, as I put it in a Facebook post to a KU student activist–

Remember who the opposition is: the Corbett Regime and their neo-liberal allies in the Chancellor’s Office. Not the people who disagree about whether it’s better to do civil disobedience or voter registration.

There are going to be actions of all kinds happening on our campuses over the next few months. Some of you will find some of them distasteful–either because they’re too aggressive or not aggressive enough; because they’re ‘paralyzing by analyzing’ or underinformed; because somebody didn’t coordinate with somebody else before scheduling two events at the same time. You get the idea.

But understand this. Every time you dismiss or attack somebody who’s on the same side you are because you don’t like their tactics, you’re making the Governor’s attacks work better. Unfortunately for sane people everywhere, Governor Corbett and his allies have easier pathways to make things happen than we do. They have convenient access to the channels of power that we don’t. We only make it worse for ourselves when we squabble and bicker with, rather than collaborate and encourage, our allies.

More to come, I’m sorry to have to say…

 

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Filed under Access, Advocacy, AFSCME, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Collective Bargaining, Communities, Contract Negotiations, Corporate University, Office of the Chancellor, PASSHE, Privatization, Public education, Public employee unions, public employees, Shock Doctrine, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, West Chester University

A friendly reminder about PASSHE tuition

I’m reposting this morning’s new post on the state APSCUF blog for a few reasons:

1. So that you’ll click on the link to it and subscribe to the state APSCUF blog yourself.

2. So it’ll go out to Facebook readers who wouldn’t otherwise see it.

3. So I (Seth) can assert the privilege of being the person who does most of the writing for this blog and editorialize a little about the issue in a way that is NOT NECESSARILY the official APSCUF stance.

The short version of the message is that even accounting for the coming increase, PASSHE’s tuition is below the national average for public universities, and significantly below the PA state-related universities.

I (personally) believe strongly that if you’re paying tuition (for yourself or for anybody else), it’s appropriate to be upset at the increase. Just keep in mind where the target of your animus ought to be. Our schools aren’t getting less expensive to run (and they can’t get less expensive than they are right now if we’re going to protect the quality of what we do), and you’re not paying less to go to them.

I’ll leave the rest of the math up to you.

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Filed under Access, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, PASSHE, Penn State University, Tuition increase, University of Pittsburgh, West Chester University

How academic managers SHOULD feel when they fire people

Via our comrade Kevin Mahoney at KU–

Graham Spanier, President of Penn State, said in a recent interview that the PSU funding cut is like to cost jobs “in the scores” in the university’s Agriculture school (it has to do with the fact that the positions aren’t funded such that increased tuition can recover them–there’s not a lot of detail in the article).

Anyway, as opposed to ANYTHING I’ve heard from PASSHE management as they’ve been retrenching faculty, fighting the union to stop us from getting preferential hiring for retrenchees (as the CBA demands), waving around the threat of further retrenchments as a negotiations tactic, and generally behaving reprehensibly cavalierly about other people’s lives…

pant pant pant…

… Faced with looming layoffs and firings, President Spanier says:

“The longer it takes, the longer we postpone getting to the savings. At the same time, we’re trying to be very fair to our employees and come up with ways to help them find other positions, severance, health benefits,” he said. “These are good people who work hard and really care.”

As I said on Kevin M’s Facebook page when he posted the article this morning, why the hell does Spanier sound downright heroic simply because he acknowledges that firing people is bad for them?

All I hear from PASSHE management is that the top priority is to “protect educational quality” in face of budget cuts. At the local level (and presumably at the state level also, but I haven’t talked with anybody about this), we’ve been pushing at every Meet and Discuss for management to recognize publicly that protecting jobs is also a high priority. While management nods and smiles, the commitment magically never gets made.

Graham Spanier is no hero. But at least he recognizes, and is willing to say so, that there’s a very high human cost to the state’s attacks on higher education.

It’s long past time for PASSHE to figure this out and to act accordingly.

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Filed under APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Budget Deficit, Collective Bargaining, Contract Negotiations, Graham Spanier, Office of the Chancellor, PASSHE, Penn State University, Retrenchment, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, West Chester University