This morning, APSCUF, the union representing 5,000 faculty at the State System of Higher Education schools, went on strike.
As we pointed out a few weeks ago, one of the sticking points in contact negotiations is APSCUF’s health care demands. Despite being offered a 12 percent pay increase, the union refuses to accept modest cost-sharing for health insurance. Nevermind that the proposed cost-sharing is far more generous than what most workers in the private sector receive from their employers.
To enforce discipline, APSCUF leadership has threatened faculty who don’t agree with the strike.
As reported by Fox43, here is an email sent from an APSCUF chapter president—using his university email address—to faculty, implying anyone choosing to work during the strike would be “forever” labeled a “scab” (emphasis added):
This is probably the last EMAIL you will receive from me using the SRU addresses. We begin using off-campus address today.
Dear Colleagues but especially to those who are unsure if they will work during the strike,
Personally I hate being told what to do by anyone – be they presidents of universities or unions. But at the risk of being too direct, I want to help you in your decision-making if you are thinking about working during the strike, also known as “crossing the picket lines.”
IF YOU CROSS THE PICKET LINE you will be effectively saying to your colleagues on the line that you disrespect the sacrifice they are making in terms of making a stand and going without pay and benefits. You would be effectively prolonging the strike by continuing to work so the administration can maintain a fig leaf of “business as usual.” By your actions you are saying that you choose to continue to enjoy pay and benefits hard-fought by colleagues over the decades, but will not do your part NOW to take a stand to defend those benefits. You are effectively saying to the SSHE that their proposals are OK with you to:
* Cut pay of our adjunct faculty (25% of our colleagues)
* Give up the concept of shared governance
* Be reassigned any time as needed by administration
* Have reduced say in tenure, sabbatical and promotion decisions
* Work for little or no net pay increase
If you decide to work during the strike, i.e., cross the picket line, you will be faced with:
* Colleagues who will try to convince you not to cross the line
* Peer rejection
* Being publicly identified as a “Scab” (strikebreaker) forever
What makes this university a great place to work is our colleagues. We look out for each other, we respect each other, we defer to each other, we support each other, and we value each other. This collegial atmosphere is a two-edged sword. If one betrays his or her colleagues, the reaction could be negative. Strikes are unpleasant – relationships can be harmed long-term. If we have a brief strike, do you want to be branded by your colleagues forever as one of the few who crossed the picket line? I don’t recommend it.
Sorry for the negative tone of this message, but I want it to be clear to faculty who are considering working during the strike that they will potentially face negative judgement by colleagues. If we are solid and unified, a strike will be brief. Plan to honor the picket lines and stand with us.