With a special board vote on Wednesday, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) finalized new contract agreements with roughly 6,000 educators and 400 coaches across its network of 14 state-owned universities, ending a saga of negotiations lasting nearly two years.
The employees had been working without contracts since midway through 2011. In the autumn of 2012, the union authorized a strike, but no action was taken.
The separate agreements with coaches and faculty under the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) will both run retroactively from July 2011 through June 2015.
PASSHE spokesman Kenn Marshall said the two bargaining units under APSCUF each agreed to "changes to healthcare coverage" that would offset the cost of salary increases.
"There will be some higher co-pays for some office visits, emergency room visits, prescription drugs," Marshall said.
Faculty and coaches who are eligible for retirement will also be offered a financial incentive to leave their positions, he said.
In southwestern Pennsylvania, PASSHE's network of colleges includes California, Clarion, Indiana and Slippery Rock Universities. The entire 14-school system boasts 115,000 students.
The new contracts resemble the agreements PASSHE has made with its other unions in the past two years, including labor groups representing security guards, maintenance crews, managers, nurses, physicians and social workers.