The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 3, 2013

University system, union reach ‘framework’ pact

HARRISBURG — Negotiators for Pennsylvania’s state-owned university system and the union representing about 5,500 faculty members say they have reached “framework” for a new contract to resolve a prolonged dispute.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties said the accord with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education was reached early Sunday after two full days of negotiating.

The union says “the general framework largely mirrors” agreements with other statewide unions, and offered no details pending a Monday evening vote by its negotiations committee. The system said more information would be released “as the ratification process continues.”

The union earlier sent out an update Saturday night saying progress was being made “but very, very slow progress.”

Members have been working without a contract at the 14 state-owned universities since June 2011, and members had authorized a strike if necessary.

Both sides had agreed on wage increases based on the state-employee contracts, but issues such as health care, class sizes and distance learning have been sticking points. The union said the system was making unreasonable demands for concessions on health coverage and other issues. School officials said concessions are necessary to ensure affordable, quality education

The universities enroll about 115,000 students. They are in Indiana, Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.

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