State System, faculty set more contract talks

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Negotiators for the State System of Higher Education and faculty at its 14 state-owned universities met Tuesday morning in Harrisburg without reaching an agreement but will meet again next Wednesday, both sides said.

The parties also have agreed to bargaining sessions on Jan. 4 and 11.

Tuesday's meeting was the first face-to-face session since members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties voted to authorize their negotiators to call a strike on short notice. The union, whose contract expired June 30, 2011, has said it would hold off on any potential job action until the spring semester.

APSCUF President Steve Hicks said the union has not yet received a substantive response to a new comprehensive proposal it made last week that included what the union described as hundreds of thousands of dollars in concessions. He expressed disappointment in the amount of progress.

"I think we're less optimistic after [Tuesday's] session," he said.

State System spokesman Kenn Marshall said management is still studying the union's latest offer. "We remain committed to the goal of having all of our employees receive the same level of healthcare benefits," he said. "We believe we are making some progress toward that goal."

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