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Pa. university faculty take 1st step toward strike

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The union representing faculty at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities is taking the first step toward a possible strike.

Union officials say delegates from each campus will meet Saturday in State College for a strike authorization vote.

The move was announced amid stalled contract negotiations. On Monday, state higher education officials declined the union's offer for binding arbitration.

The two sides disagree on pay for temporary faculty, health care and retiree benefits. The union's last contract expired in June 2011.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties represents more than 6,000 faculty and coaches.

The union's general membership also must vote to authorize a strike before one can be called. That vote has not been scheduled.

The universities serve about 120,000 students. There has never been a faculty strike.