Pa. university professors ratify contract with state universities

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Unionized faculty members at 14 state-owned universities have overwhelmingly ratified a new contract with the State System of Higher Education.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties began counting the votes Friday morning in Harrisburg. More than 95 percent of the faculty who voted supported the ratification, officials said. Only a simple majority vote was needed to ratify the contract.

"Faculty members at our universities are dedicated to providing students with a high quality education. The overwhelming support for this agreement illustrates the commitment our faculty have to our students and our institutions," said Steve Hicks, president of APSCUF.

The 5,500 faculty members in the State System of Higher Education have been working without a contract since June 2011.

The four-year pact recommended by union leaders includes concessions on health care, but calls for pay raises of one or two percent in each of the last three years. It's a compensation package similar to the agreements reached by the governor and other statewide unions, officials said.

For the first time, class size will be included in the collective bargaining agreement as an issue subject to faculty input and recommendations.

"This is a balanced contract that preserves and maintains quality public higher education in the commonwealth," said Hicks.

The PASSHE Board of Governors will vote on the contract in the coming weeks.

About 115,000 students attend the universities, which include East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, Millersville and West Chester.

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