Faculty at Pennsylvania's 14 state universities have announced their intent to strike by Oct. 30 if no agreement is reached.
The move came as marathon talks broke off Wednesday with no more bargaining sessions scheduled until next month. The system proposed eight addtional bargaining sessions, said state system spokesman Kenn Marshall, but the union declined to meet until next month.
The system has asked the Pennsylvania Labor Relations board to go to fact finding, which, if granted, could delay a strike for 40 days. The board could act on the request as soon as Friday.
The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties intends to hold strike preparation meetings over the weekend.
"They'd rather do that," Marshall said.
Marshall said the 105,000-student system has offered faculty $159 million in raises or nearly a 12 percent hike over the life of the proposed contract. The pay increases would be contingent upon the union accepting cutbacks in health care coverage and other contract changes that would produce $70 million in savings, Marshall said.
"We are committed to staying at the table to settle this contract as soon as possible, and have provided APSCUF with plenty of options for reaching an agreement," Marshall said.
Kenneth M. Mash, president of the union, said the system really isn't offering faculty anything. All the raises would be given back in other areas, he said.
The system, he said, has not budged.
"It does seem to me that for whatever reason they want there to be a strike," he said.
Mash said he expects a strike date to be set this weekend unless fact finding is approved.
He also said it was disingenuous for the system to propose bargaining sessions over the weekend, knowing the union had scheduled a strike workshop.
"This is another example of them playing games instead of actually negotiating," he said.
The union represents about 5,500 faculty and coaches at Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities. Its previous contract expired June 30, 2015.