Both sides speak on stalled Pa. university talks

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Faculty union leaders and the board chairman of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities are accusing each other of being unreasonable in their stalled contract talks.

Hundreds of faculty members from across the state protested Thursday outside the State System of Higher Education offices while the board of governors heard from both sides at its quarterly meeting.

The head negotiator for the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, Ken Mash, said the system is prolonging the 17-month impasse by making unreasonable demands for concessions on health coverage and other issues.

Board Chairman Guido Pichini, of Berks County, said health benefits for the 6,000 faculty members are more generous than the coverage provided for tens of thousands of other state employees, including the governor and his cabinet.

"PASSHE currently pays more than $15,000 a year for family coverage under this plan, compared to $10,140 for family coverage under the commonwealth's plan,
 said Pichini. "We must address that disparity, and we can begin to do so while ensuring greater fairness for all of our employees."

Pichini added that concessions are necessary to ensure affordable, quality education.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education includes Kutztown, Millersville, East Stroudsburg and West Chester universities.

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