- Associated Press - Saturday, April 9, 2016

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - The union representing faculty and coaches at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities says members have decided against a walkout before the academic year ends next month.

But the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties said delegates at its legislative assembly voted Saturday to take a strike authorization vote either at an emergency session during the summer or at the next scheduled meeting in September if there is no progress in contract negotiations.

Union president Kenneth Mash said that despite what he called “palpable outrage” on the part of members, they decided that a strike at the very end of the semester “would unfairly burden students and their families.”

“Uncertainty about the budget and the complications of tuition increases have made this a very stressful semester for students,” Mash said in a statement.

The union says members, who have never gone out on strike, have been working under an expired contract for almost a year. Officials said the last talks were in January and the next session is scheduled April 28.

A union spokeswoman said earlier that the decision to consider a strike authorization vote followed “negative comments” about the union during last month’s legislative budget hearings as well as the lack of progress in contract talks.

Officials with the State System of Higher Education have “engaged in good-faith negotiations” with the union and are “committed to continuing to do so until we reach an agreement,” system spokesman Kenn Marshall told the (Washington) Observer-Reporter.

“We have offered the faculty virtually the same terms that our other unions already have accepted,” Marshall said.

The union represents about 5,500 faculty and coaches at Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester universities.

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