Tentative contract for 14 Pa. colleges

Posted: July 03, 2007

Faculty members at the 14 Pennsylvania-owned universities will receive a lump sum payment and annual salary increases totaling 10 percent, according to the terms of a new contract unveiled this morning in Harrisburg.

"This is truly a fair and balanced contract," said Gov. Rendell, who appeared at an 11 a.m. press conference with leaders from both sides and their negotiating teams.

The deal, which came at the end of five days of marathon bargaining, narrowly averted a strike which would have disrupted summer classes for 25,000 students and other programs at the schools. The previous contract expired Saturday.

According to the tentative agreement, members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties will receive a $1,750 cash payment in the first year, followed by annual salary increases of 3 percent in the second and third years, and 4 percent in the final year.

Members would also continue to pay 10 percent of their annual premium for health-care benefits for the first three years and 15 percent in the final year. They will also be required to join a wellness program or pay a higher share of their premium, up to 25 percent in the fourth year.

Union president Pat Heilman said the agreement also dedicates money for new tenure-line hires, an effort to stem the early departure of junior faculty from the system.

"We want to mentor and cultivate them so that they and their senior colleagues before them will stay with the state system," she said.

Judy G. Hample, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, said the contract will give management some of its long-sought perogatives governing work rules and other issues.

Rendell said that Pennsylvania has had the lowest tuition increases of any state system in the country.

"We want to keep tuition affordable," he said. "This contract allows us to do that."

The union represents 5,500 faculty members. According to the Associated Press, the average nine-month salary for full-time faculty was $70,000 in the 2006-07 academic year, and maximum salaries currently range from $60,000 for instructors to roughly $98,000 for full professors.

The state system schools are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities.

Contact staff writer Nancy Petersen at 610-701-7602 or npetersen@phillynews.com.

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