Faculty at fourteen Pennsylvania state universities voted Friday to authorize a strike if contract negotiations fail to reach an agreement in coming weeks.
No one is on strike yet, but professors and coaches voted overwhelmingly that the union should be allowed to call one if progress is not made. Of the 6,000 ballots cast, 95 percent voted to authorize a walkout.
The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties has been working without a contract since June 2011. Unions and negotiators for the Pennsylvania state college system have met 40 times but have been unable to reach an agreement.
Union leaders suggested they would meet in the next 10 days to decide whether or not to authorize a strike. If it happens, the walkout would probably take place next semester, i.e. sometime in January. If it happens, it would be the first strike in the history of the state's higher education system.
There is another negotiating session scheduled for December 11. Sticking points in the negotiations include "pay for part-time temporary faculty members, health care for active members and retirees, and distance education compensation."
A total of 115,000 students are enrolled in the system. Both enrollment and state funding are reportedly down.