Pa. state universities approve faculty contract

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The board overseeing Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities Wednesday approved a four-year contract with 5,500 faculty, officially ending the longest faculty labor dispute in the system's three-decade history.

The vote by the State System of Higher Education's board of governors took place in a special meeting, which also included a vote by the panel to ratify a contract with coaches across the system.

Members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) had been without a contract since July 1, 2011, and with talks foundering last fall, they authorized their negotiators to strike on short notice.

But both sides eventually reached a deal, which earlier this month was approved by faculty on each of the 14 campuses.

The contract includes a salary freeze in the first year, then increases in base salary of 1 percent, 1 percent and 2 percent over the remaining three years, plus other payments based on seniority

The pact requires modifications to the health plan, including higher co-pays for office visits, emergency room visits and prescription medications.

Under the new contract, the union makes a gain on the issue of class sizes. The pact requires that university presidents explain in writing why a recommended maximum enrollment in a class ought to be exceeded.

"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," board chairman Guido Pichini said in a statement released following the vote.

After the first-year pay freeze, faculty at the top of the pay scale -- ranging from $107,870 for full professors to $66,222 for instructors -- will see their base salary increase the remaining three years by a total of 4 percent, plus yearly cash payments equivalent to 2.5 percent of their salary.

Base salaries will go up a total of 4 percent plus annual service increments of 2.5 percent or 5 percent yearly for faculty at all other scales, including the bottom scale that ranges from $44,795 for instructors to $72,967 for full professors.

The coaches, a separate unit within APSCUF, had also approved their contract before Wednesday's board vote. The new pact with them provides salary increases of 2.5 percent in 2012-13 and 2.25 percent in 2013-14, along with performance-based merit pools of 3 percent each in 2013-14 and 2014-15, officials said.

education - state

Bill Schackner:, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.

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