BY KEVIN MAHONEY
APSCUF, the faculty union representing faculty at the 14 universities of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), announced a short time ago that union leaders will have an “important announcement” at a press event in Hershey tomorrow. While local reporters will be able to attend the event in person at the Red Lion Hotel Harrisburg Hershey, the event will also be broadcast as a Facebook Live event. Anyone can watch the live stream on APSCUF’s Facebook page beginning at 10:30am tomorrow (Friday, 9/23).
The union’s press release does not indicate what tomorrow’s announcement will be about; however, given the breakdown in negotiations this week, there is an expectation that news of an impending strike may take center stage. But for now, APSCUF is only saying that,
Reporters will have a chance to ask contract-negotiation questions directly to President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash when the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties broadcasts via Facebook Live 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23, on its Facebook page at Facebook.com/APSCUF. Mash also will make an important announcement.
Friday’s date is significant is also significant because is it the deadline for PASSHE to respond to APSCUF’s proposal for binding arbitration. Binding arbitration would turn the contract work over to a three person panel in the recognition that the two parties are at an impasse. In a statement released on Tuesday, APSCUF President Ken Mash said, “binding arbitration is effective in 100 percent of the cases in which it is agreed to. We believe our students want this over as soon as possible, and we hope the State System will agree to the binding-arbitration process that will allow everyone to focus on our students.” For a few short hours it seemed like this might be a path toward a contract settlement. However, those hopes were dashed at the negotiating table on Wednesday when PASSHE negotiators insisted on proposals that were “incendiary,” as Mash put it.
Friday also marks the first full day of APSCUF’s Legislative Assembly followed by a Strike Workshop on Saturday and Sunday. As faculty gather in Harrisburg tonight ahead of tomorrow’s announcement, they are no doubt feeling the full weight of APSCUF’s surprise call for tomorrow’s press conference and Facebook Live event. We will know more in just a few hours.