The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) is officially on strike. More than 100,000 students are out of the classroom in the 14 state owned universities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Professors are picketing all across the 14 public universities. The State System of Higher Education of Pennsylvania (PASSHE) and APSCUF couldn’t come up with an agreement after 477 days of working without a contract… “Lower wages and threats to union members’ benefits are the reasons for the strike.
As a retired APSCUF member, I can attest to you that the strike is kind of a necessity up there as entry-level faculty members don’t make that much money. To make things worse, most of the state system institutions are located in very depressed small towns where the price of food, gas, housing, and overall cost of living is amazingly high. For example: The cost of gas in Indiana, PA today is $2.39 a gallon. The price of gas in Manhattan, New York is $2.29. The price of gas in Ridgeland, where I live in the great state of Mississippi is $1.97. The average tax bill for a $200,000 dollar house in Indiana, PA is $3,600 or higher. The average tax bill for a comparable house where I am currently living in Mississippi is $1,500 yet the entry-level salary for a state system (APSCUF member) faculty member there is $54,000. Our entry level salaries in Mississippi aren’t really that far off from theirs up north in Pennsylvania. I can attest to you that $54,000 in western PA doesn’t take you too far. On average, people get sicker more often up there than they do here in the South. Perhaps, the former is due in part because of coal pollution. It is no accident that the APSCUF health insurance is de facto amazing, as well as its monthly premium prices. Now, the state system of higher education in Pennsylvania is threatening to cut what the faculty union of Pennsylvania has prided itself on, which is providing for its members … Excellent health benefits. Oh oh…
No wonder why APSCUF is on a strike. Don’t mess with their health insurance! I do sympathize with the professor’s union because I know how rough life is up there economically. A system of checks and balances should exist in every facet of the American economy so that capitalism proves again (and again) to be the very best economical system the world has ever seen. Unions do play a role in this process of democracy and that’s good. I honestly don’t think, however, that there is a long term “high wage” solution for our country.
This is what I see…
Back in 1970, we have seen a tremendous increase in immigration in this country. The former adds supply of labor into the country, which when uncontrolled can be devastating to the economy, as far as wages are concerned.
US Immigration Policy
Since the 1960’s, the percentage of women who entered the workforce has increased exponentially. Female labor has had a tremendous impact on the supply of labor in this country for decades. The former adds supply of labor into the country, which when uncontrolled can be devastating to the economy, as far as wages are concerned.
Free By 50 Graph
How about technology? The more technology we have (the more automation), the less jobs we need and the more productivity we then expect as labor then needs to exhaust itself in order to to make ends meet. The former (technology) reduced the demand for labor as automation does the work instead. Uncontrolled adoption of technology (automation) can be devastating to the economy, as far as wages are concerned.
Offshoring jobs overseas can cause serious problems to any economy. Since the 1970’s the number of jobs that were sent overseas to low wage countries has been enormous. Amazingly, the trend seems to be going in the direction of offshoring jobs!
The lack of jobs (in manufacturing for example) adds supply of labor into the country, which when uncontrolled can be devastating to the economy, as far as wages are concerned. It is no surprise that Americans are making pennies today for the sweat of their labor!
There are more immigrants living in the USA and increasing… We have more women competing for jobs in the workforce and increasing… We have more automaton replacing jobs in this country and increasing… We have more jobs leaving this country and increasing…
What do you think will happen to our salaries if we have more immigrants looking for jobs, more women getting jobs, more technology automating our jobs, and more jobs being sent overseas impacting our job offerings? Lower wages. We have too many potential employees looking for scarce jobs The result? Lower wages, hands down. It is that simple.
Eventually, APSCUF will negotiate a contract with the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and their faculty members will get a raise in salary. I don’t think it will be done that quickly, though. Technology, along with other discussed variables, have made it difficult for Americans to receive higher wages as there aren’t as many jobs available out there. It is a question of supply and demand folks.
There are side effects of technology… low wages are a consequence not the cause of our contemporary issues in the 21st century. The more people look for jobs without having enough jobs available, the more people work for less and do more. Unions will strike until a fair contract is reached and that’s good. Unfortunately, union tactics won’t work forever because supply and demand play a big role in how institutions receive funding to support programs, including education.
God be with us… We are going to need him.