The faculty at 14 of Pennsylvania's state
colleges walked off the job on Wednesday after long-running
negotiations on pay and benefits broke down, leaving some
100,000 students in the lurch.
Some 5,500 professors and other workers began the strike at
5 a.m. EDT.
Contract talks between the Association of Pennsylvania State
College and University Faculties (APSCUF) and Pennsylvania's
State System of Higher Education have been going on for two
About 100,000 students at schools from West Chester
University near Philadelphia to California University outside
Pittsburgh were questioning whether to go to class, as school
officials urged them to do despite the strike.
"We are headed to the picket lines," the union said in a
statement. "Until the State System negotiates a contract APSCUF
believes is fair to students and to faculty, faculty members
will be on strike."
The union said it proposed a wage package smaller than those
given to other state employees and offered healthcare
concessions in excess of $50 million, which the school system
School system officials said they had offered a new proposal
that included raises for permanent and temporary faculty and a
healthcare package identical to what other state employees
receive in order to avert a strike.
The walkout, which involves full-time and part-time faculty,
comes amid a protracted struggle by university graduate student
workers across the United States to unionize and receive better
Governor Tom Wolf in a statement urged both sides to return
to the bargaining table.
The governor said he had increased funding to the state
system by more than $30 million in the past two years to offset
cuts made under the previous administration.
"The shortsightedness on both sides is counter to my
efforts," Wolf said. "Everyone's top priority should be the
students and their families who are counting on an agreement to
ensure Pennsylvania continues to deliver on its promise to
provide a world-class college education."
In a video posted on Twitter by University of Pennsylvania
Professor Casey Bohrman, a couple dozen people could been seen
picketing in front of a school building.
Students and alumni chimed in on social media, some showing
support and others poking fun.
"I stand in solidarity with my professors," Lydia Albin
wrote on Twitter.
"Bring back chips and pickles or we
strike!!@BUCampusDining," Cecilia Nguyen, who identified herself
as a Bloomsburg student, wrote.