Amid reports of progress tonight, bargaining continued between the union representing faculty at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities and State System of Higher Education officials in hopes of ending the longest faculty contract dispute in system history, a union spokeswoman said.
At 6:30 p.m., Lauren Gutshall, spokeswoman for the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) said: "I just got off the phone with our negotiating team. They are actually still meeting. They passed several proposals across the table, and while they haven't reached a tentative agreement on any of the outstanding issues, they do seem to be making progress."
She said the parties expected to bargain at least part of tonight and possibly Saturday morning. Kenn Marshall, a State System spokesman, said at mid-afternoon that the talks were continuing, but he could not immediately be reached tonight.
The State System's last contract with its roughly 5,000 faculty members expired in June 2011. Among the key outstanding issues are health benefits, including those for retirees, and faculty compensation for developing and teaching distance courses
In the fall, faculty authorized their negotiating team to call a strike on short notice depending on the tenor of the talks, but union leaders postponed any such action at least until the start of the spring semester. There has never been a strike in the State System's three-decade history.
About 115,000 students are enrolled on the State System's 14 campuses statewide, including California, Clarion, Edinboro, Indiana and Slippery Rock universities in Western Pennsylvania.