Wednesday, July 04, 2007

PA. faculty in line for raises-includes domestic partners benefits

By Bill Zlatos
Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Salaries of the top-paid professors at the 14 state-owned universities would rise from $97,767 to about $108,000 in four years under a tentative agreement reached after intense negotiations this week.

The agreement, announced Tuesday at a news conference in Harrisburg, allows 25,000 students in the State System of Higher Education to continue summer school and incoming freshmen to complete four years without fear of a strike by their teachers.

The State System includes California, Clarion, Indiana and Slippery Rock universities of Pennsylvania and serves 109,000 students.

"This is as much of a win-win contract as I've ever seen," Gov. Ed Rendell said.


Under the terms, the 5,500 teachers in the system would get a flat $1,750 raise in the first year, raises of 3 percent in the second and third years and 4 percent in the fourth year.

Teachers with up to 12 years of experience would continue to get the same annual raises they previously received on top of any general increases. In the fourth year of the contract, the most senior teachers would get a cash payment equal to 2.5 percent of their salary.

Teachers would have to increase their share of medical insurance premiums from 10 to 15 percent, starting in July 2010, or as much as 25 percent if they do not enter a new wellness program.

The pact further extends domestic partner benefits to tuition and health care. Currently, faculty can take bereavement leave if their partner dies and family leave if their partner gets sick. The benefits apply only to partners of the same sex.

"We're confident that we can continue to manage our costs as we've done for several years and keep tuition at a reasonably low level," said Kenneth M. Jarin, chairman of the State System's Board of Governors.

In the past two years, tuition at the state-owned schools has risen 2 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. Students now pay $5,038 a year.

The contract still has to be approved by members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, the teachers' union, and then the State System's board.

"We would anticipate we could have a ratification vote completed by the last week of July or the first week of August if everything goes well," said Pat Heilman, president of the union.

If ratified, the new contract would run through June 30, 2011. The previous contract expired Saturday.

Bill Zlatos can be reached at or (412) 320-7828.




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