Professors, coaches, faculty and educators went on strike Wednesday morning after Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PaSSHE) officials presented negotiators for APSCUF what the state called their “last best offer” and walked out of negotiations.

The three-day-old strike gained overwhelming support from both faculty and students. Hundreds of students at all of the 14 universities that make up the system took part in picketing and marches in support of their professors.

The decision to so quickly end the strike and order members back to work without a chance to see the contract, a summary—let alone have time to discuss and vote on it, was made out of concern that the job action could develop into a broader movement that would expose the anti-working class nature of the Democratic party in the weeks before the November 5 election.


Faculty members picketing in the rain outside IUP Friday morning

In the statement announcing the decision to end the strike, APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash praised the role of Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

“We are thankful to Gov. Tom Wolf for his commitment to reaching an agreement. We may never have received a deal if it were not for his commitment to public higher education, our universities, and our students.”

Wolf defeated his predecessor, Tom Corbett, two years ago, after promising to restore the massive cuts to public education, both K-12 and in higher education, made by Corbett.

In fact, Wolf has continued those cuts. Since becoming governor, Wolf has not restored the cuts made to education by his predecessors over the previous eight years. Since the 2007-08 school year, state funding per student has fallen 33 percent, leaving it at the same level as 1999, not counting inflation.

Since 2008, over 900 faculty positions have been cut and there has been an overall decline of 100 of programs offered to students.

Without giving any details, the union statement says negotiators agreed to millions in concessions in health care and wages. Union members were told to stop picketing at midnight, but could take down their picket lines immediately if they wanted to.

In a public statement following the tentative settlement the union said, “For the sake of students, APSCUF agreed to a salary package that was significantly lower than that of the other unions.”

A significant issue in the walkout was the continued assault on adjunct faculty members, who the university wants to put on a separate, lower salary scale. In earlier proposals, PaSSHE sought to increase the workload for adjuncts by increasing the number of course hours they must teach from 12 to 15 hours, the equivalent of going from teaching four courses to five. PaSSHE claims that it has withdrawn those proposals