Strike update: No talks planned as day three winds down

David O'Connor//October 21, 2016

Strike update: No talks planned as day three winds down

David O'Connor//October 21, 2016

Instead, it’s a mix of financial and educational quality issues, he said.

“There are economic issues that certainly ring true with the faculty, then there are other issues that deal with quality of education,” Barry David, a Millersville engineering professor, said early Friday inside George Street Café, the Millersville coffee shop/restaurant that has become a hub for the faculty union.

Faculty this week have been walking picket lines at Millersville and the 13 other universities around the state. Union leaders have said that plans to cut faculty benefits while charging more for them, plus cuts in funding for professional development, are not acceptable.

David, president of Millersville’s chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), said State System leaders seem to be treating faculty “in a very different way from the other unions, and from how we’ve done new contracts historically.”

As he spoke, clusters of picketing professors were visible at several main hubs on the 8,000-student campus.

“I will compromise on the financial issues a little bit, but not on the quality issues” regarding education, said one striking faculty member, Hadi Halawa, a professor of wellness and sport sciences.

“I would like to go back to work on Monday, but (the State System) has to offer a contract that’s fair,” he added.

The faculty union had gone out on strike early Wednesday morning, the first strike in APSCUF’s history, its leaders said. The union represents about 5,500 faculty and coaches at the 14 universities.

The State System of Higher Education emphasized that its new contract offer would grant pay increases to all faculty, permanent and temporary, and also offers “the same high-quality health care package as our nurses, police and security officers and all non-union employees, seeking to treat all employees equitably,” its web page stated.

Classes are continuing as scheduled, but Millersville’s union leaders estimate that more than 90 percent of the faculty are not in their classrooms.

Students also have been supportive of the striking teachers, union president David said Friday.

“APSCUF has not coerced or even encouraged students to be involved in supporting the union in any way,” he said.

MU President John Anderson said this week in a statement that “participation in the strike is an individual faculty member’s decision, so students should report to scheduled classes unless the university indicates otherwise.”

The faculty now on strike are not getting paid and not receiving their university health care benefits.

The State System also said its proposed pay increases for regular faculty would include a 2.75 percent general pay increase for the fall semester and a $1,000 one-time cash payment next spring, with pay increases starting at 2 percent for the following three semesters.

Inside George Street Café, faculty member Donna Painter was finishing putting tape on a picket sign early Friday. “I’m really looking forward to being back in the classroom,” the professor of graphic communication said.