PASSHE approves job-cutting university consolidation

AFSCME Council 13 is extremely disappointed in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors’ unanimous decision to approve the consolidation of six of the system’s 14 universities into two, but the union remains committed to defending its members in every way possible.

The consolidation plan includes drastic cuts of staff and faculty throughout the entire state system and will combine the universities of California, Clarion, and Edinboro in the west, and Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield in the northeast.

Council 13 maintains its position that this is a rushed, inadequate plan that threatens the livelihoods of the PASSHE workforce and the quality of service and education on the system’s campuses.

Custodians, groundskeepers, support staff, clerical staff, and other essential workers who AFSCME represents, have kept these campuses running safely and efficiently despite a global pandemic. Now, many of their jobs are at risk.

“While we are extremely disappointed in this latest development, we are not the least bit deterred from doing what is necessary to defend workers on PASSHE campuses,” AFSCME Council 13 Executive Director David Henderson said.

“The university employees who AFSCME represents have kept these universities functioning throughout a pandemic, and we will continue working with university leadership to save their jobs wherever possible.”

Thanks to local union action and strong public support, AFSCME has managed to save the jobs of custodians at Lock Haven, Edinboro, and IUP, and continues to work directly with university leadership to keep AFSCME members’ work in-house.
And thanks in large part to AFSCME’s lobbying efforts, PASSHE has received the first $50 million of a $200 million three-year commitment from the state.
PASSHE is also working with AFSCME and APSCUF to use a portion of the investment to support its workforce. This will minimize reliance on retrenchment and furloughs through a variety of means including retirement incentives, placement and outplacement for impacted employees, and providing reskilling and upskilling opportunities through credentialing programs.
AFSCME-represented employees facing role elimination will have placement opportunities with other state agencies and an extended furlough notice period to allow for that. Additionally, PASSHE and AFSCME will work together to ensure no functions that impact current AFSCME-represented employees are outsourced.
No matter what, Council 13’s goal remains the same, and that is to continue to explore every possible avenue to avoid outsourcing and job cuts on PASSHE campuses for the good of students and employees alike.