Faculty at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities started holding strike authorization votes Monday amid contentious negotiations for a new contract.
Balloting will be held through Wednesday for union teachers and coaches at schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. If passed, the vote empowers union chapter presidents at each campus to call a strike; 10 of the 14 must approve a walkout.
Members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties have been working without a contract since June 2011.
State officials seek cost savings for the system, which suffered a 19 percent budget cut in 2011-12. Any new deal must be "fair to everyone, especially to our students and their families who currently provide nearly two-thirds of the revenue needed to operate the universities," the system said in a statement Friday.
The two sides disagree on issues including compensation for temporary instructors, health care benefits and incentive pay for online education.
During bargaining in Harrisburg last Friday, state negotiators withdrew a proposal for a 35 percent salary cut for temporary, or adjunct, faculty. Instead, they proposed no change in full-time adjunct salaries while freezing the pay of part-time temporary faculty for the life of the contract.