Last updated: February 20. 2013 12:59AM - 185 Views

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PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania higher education officials and the union representing state university faculty are reporting progress at the bargaining table.

Members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties have been working without a contract for 18 months. Union leaders met with management for six hours on Friday in their first negotiation since Dec. 11.

Both sides reported movement, but no deal was reached, and additional bargaining sessions were scheduled for Jan. 11, Jan. 16 and Jan. 17.

There was some important progress, the union said on its website Saturday, but there are still significant divides, with health care and compensation for online education remaining key sticking points. The union said that faculty continue strike preparations.

I think we are, essentially after today, a bit more optimistic that we can reach agreement with the State System, union spokeswoman Lauren Gutshall told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As we have been saying all along, faculty members do not want to go on strike. We just want a fair contract.

The union said the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education took its proposal for a temporary faculty salary freeze off the table. Without providing specifics, State System spokesman Kenn Marshall said the sides made progress on several issues Friday.

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