California University of Pennsylvania and its faculty union have begun discussing arrangements to reimburse members who paid what the courts say were improperly levied campus parking fees dating to 2010.
About 160 of the 375 individuals represented by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties paid Cal U to park during those years and will collectively receive repayment of approximately $242,000, university spokeswoman Christine Kindl said Wednesday.
An unspecified number of other faculty who opted to lease spaces off campus after free parking there was eliminated will be reimbursed, too.
"Faculty [union] members who chose to park off-campus will have 60 days from the start of the semester to submit verifiable receipts for their off-campus parking," Ms. Kindl said. She said they will be reimbursed in an amount up to one of the school's tiered parking plans.
Cal U had relied on parking fees to help finance $20 million in recent parking improvements on campus, including a gated, five-story garage with space for 661 vehicles.
But the union representing those employees argued successfully before Commonwealth Court and earlier before the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board that Cal U's actions that included imposing the fees mid-contract without adequate bargaining amounted to unfair labor practice.
It ordered the money returned to professors and coaches with interest, and a decision last month by the state Supreme Court not to review that decision effectively ended the case.
The reimbursements represent an added financial challenge for a campus that has struggled as of late to balance its budget in the face of factors including enrollment declines.
Cal U has said it plans to use auxiliary reserves to replace the lost parking income as it pays debt service on a parking improvement bond.
"They were very cooperative," Michael Slavin, head of the faculty union's campus chapter, said of the meeting that took place Tuesday.
The return to free parking for faculty at Cal U may not be permanent.
"Once the university meets all the obligations of the court order and makes restitution, APSCUF has indicated it may be willing to negotiate," Ms. Kindl said.
She said the reimbursements will be made to the faculty union only, Ms. Kindl said. The school has parking agreements in place with unions that represent other campus workers, she said.
Bill Schackner: email@example.com, 412-263-1977 or on Twitter @BschacknerPG.