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Pa.-owned colleges' faculty could get up to 7% raises

| Friday, March 8, 2013, 7:15 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Thousands of faculty members at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities would receive annual pay raises of between 3.5 percent and 7 percent over three years under a proposed contract that their union overwhelmingly endorsed on Friday.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, which represents 5,500 faculty employees, declined to say how many cast ballots but said more than 95 percent of those who voted support the pact.

“This is a balanced contract that preserves and maintains quality, public higher education in the commonwealth,” said union President Steve Hicks.

The State System of Higher Education board of governors is scheduled to vote March 20 on the faculty contract and a separate pact with about 600 coaches represented by the same union.

Faculty members have worked without a contract since June 2011 as negotiations dragged on. The system demanded steps to rein in costs, but the union fought to keep members' health coverage and other benefits unchanged.

The four-year contract is retroactive to July 1, 2011, and calls for no general pay raise in the already completed first year. But assuming the board approves it, faculty members would get an immediate 1 percent increase retroactive to July 1, 2012; another 1 percent raise on July 1 this year; and a 2 percent increase on July 1, 2014.

Tho increases are in addition to the annual “service increment” increases of 5 percent for faculty members with five years' service or less and 2.5 percent for more senior faculty members, according to spokesmen for the union and the system.

Other state employee unions have similar provisions in their contracts, said system spokesman Kenn Marshall.

Karen Ball, the system's vice chancellor for external affairs, said faculty salaries vary widely among the campuses and can depend on professors' individual credentials. She said a mid-level assistant professor makes about $54,500, and a full tenured professor earns $108,000.

The system wrested cost-cutting union concessions on health coverage, including increased copayments for office visits, emergency-room visits and prescription drugs, which would bring faculty benefits in line with coverage for most state employees.

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