Graduate Students

Labor Board Overrules Campus-Smoking Ban at 14 Pennsylvania Universities

May 27, 2009

After eight long months, smokers on 14 college campuses in Pennsylvania can light up once again.

Pennsylvania’s Labor Relations Board last week overturned a new policy that had banned smoking — both indoors and outside — across the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, The Patriot-News, a Harrisburg newspaper, reported. The labor board, reversing a ruling by a hearing examiner, said that government and other public-sector employers, including colleges and schools, had no authority to prohibit smoking without negotiating the matter with, and gaining the consent of, their unions.

Last September the system’s chancellor, John Cavanaugh, informed the 14 universities that a new state law banning smoking in public places would apply to their campuses as well, including outdoors. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties objected to the new policy and filed a grievance.

A spokesman for the system told the newspaper that officials would appeal the labor board’s decision in Commonwealth Court. He said no one had yet been penalized for violating the policy. —Marc Beja