Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors has ratified a pair of new collective bargaining agreements with the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, the union that represents both university faculty and athletic coaches. The ratification occurred March 20.
The separate agreements, both of which run through June 30, 2015, were previously ratified by the members of the two bargaining units.
The new contracts include salary increases that essentially track those provided to other state employee unions, as well as changes in PASSHE’s health care plan and other workplace revisions that should produce both immediate and long-term savings for the PASSHE. Eligible faculty and coaches will be given a one-time opportunity to participate in a retirement incentive program similar to that offered to all other PASSHE employee groups in 2010. They will have until March 29 to decide whether to take the incentive.
“The approval of these two contracts brings to a conclusion a more than two-year process, during which we successfully negotiated new agreements with all of our labor unions,” said board chairman Guido M. Pichini. “Throughout the process, we have been guided by our mission to continue to offer high quality, affordable education to our students. The board appreciates the enormous amount of time and effort everyone involved put into this process.”
The new agreement with the faculty bargaining unit includes general pay increases of 1 percent each in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and 2 percent in 2014-15. Faculty also will receive either annual service increments of 2.5 percent or 5 percent in each of the three years as they move up the salary schedule, or annual cash payments equivalent to 2.5 percent of their base salary if they already are at the top of the pay scale. About one-third of faculty receives the increments.
The new agreement with the coaches’ bargaining unit includes salary increases of 2.5 percent in 2012-13 and 2.25 percent in 2013-14, as well as performance-based merit pools of 3 percent each in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Coaches do not receive annual service increments. Minimum salaries for both head and assistant coaches will be increased effective Jan. 1, 2015.
Faculty will have higher co-payments for prescription drugs as well as for some office and emergency room visits, while coaches will make larger contributions to the cost of their healthcare premiums. PASSHE and APSCUF also will begin meeting no later than September to develop an optional defined contribution healthcare plan for future retirees.
The agreement with faculty includes $400,000 a year for faculty professional development, including for programs and activities specifically related to innovation in teaching and improvement of student learning outcomes.
“In the rapidly changing world of higher education, innovation is essential. We want to encourage such efforts among all of our faculty,” Pichini said.
The new contract eliminates the payments faculty currently receive for the development and redevelopment of distance education courses, including those offered online, while ensuring faculty have the technical support they need to make certain the courses are designed and delivered in a way that is most effective and best meets students’ needs.
The Board also approved a merit pool to cover potential increases for PASSHE’s approximately 1,400 non-represented employees in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15. Non-represented employees do not receive general pay increases. Any increases they receive are based on an evaluation of their job performance.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the commonwealth, with about 115,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and the Philadelphia Multi University Center in Philadelphia.