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Faculty walking the picket lines 14 state-run universities

Written by The Associated Press | Oct 19, 2016 9:21 AM
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Striking faculty members at Millersville University. (Rich Copeland/WITF)

(Harrisburg) --  Professors, students and supporters are taking to picket lines at 14 state-run  universities around Pennsylvania, including dozens at West Chester University. 

Faculty members went on strike after 5:00 a.m. today at the universities, affecting more than 100,000 students. 

The campuses include Bloomsburg, Millersville, Shippensburg and Kutztown.

At Millersville University, sophomore Kaitlin Tynes says she found out about the strike this morning.

"I came to school because of habit and I saw my teachers and I decided I wanted to support them," she said.

Millersville chemistry professor Katie Allen is serving as a picket captain.

She says she knows the strike is putting students in a difficult position.

"I don't want to sacrifice my students' education, so it's been really tough coming up to this," she said. "Basically what I've been telling them is the faculty are going on strike because we want to ensure a quality education for you and even though this is going to inconvenience you, in the long-term, we're hoping that it will benefit you."

At West Chester, picketers are carrying signs and chanting "2, 4, 6, 8 why don't you negotiate?'' 

Victoria Tischio, a full-time tenured English professor, says some 500 of the university's about 950 professors had signed up for the walkout.

About 77 percent of the university's professors are full-time union members. 

The school's approximately 17, 000 students received an email from administrators telling them that the university will not close.  

University spokeswoman Nancy Gainer says students are expected to attend classes because not all professors will strike.  

Some professors who walked out also provided assignments in advance. 

The state system is telling students to report to class as usual because some faculty may not be striking.

It's been bargaining with the union over raises and health care contributions.

There's no word on when negotiations might resume.

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Striking faculty members at Millersville University. (Rich Copeland/WITF)

*An earlier version is below:

Governor Tom Wolf says he's "extremely disappointed'' that the state's System of Higher Education and the faculty union failed to reach a contract agreement.

He says the "resulting strike is detrimental to the system and will have far-reaching effects for years to come.''

Faculty members went on strike early this morning at 14 Pennsylvania state universities, affecting more than 100,000 students. 

The Democrat says the "shortsightedness on both sides'' hurts the dedicated professors, staff, students and their families who are paying tuition.

He says "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.''

He urges both sides to return to the negotiating table immediately and work to reach an agreement.

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Striking faculty members at Millersville University. (Rich Copeland/WITF)

*An earlier version is below:

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education says there is disappointment that the union representing faculty decided to strike, and the state system wants to settle the differences for the sake of the students.

Faculty members went on strike this morning at 14 Pennsylvania state universities, affecting more than 100,000 students. The campuses include Kutztown, Shippensburg, Millersville and Bloomsburg.

Kenn Marshall says the state system is still assessing the impact of the strike, because it's not immediately clear how many faculty members will participate and how it will affect classes.

He says the state system thought it made significant progress toward settling the strike and thought the union would consider postponing the action.

Marshall says they will do everything they can to get the differences settled, but "it takes two. We need cooperation.''

No meetings are currently scheduled, but Marshall says the sides "need to get together and need to resolve this.''

*An earlier version is below:


(Harrisburg) -- A faculty strike impacting more than 100,000 students at 14 Pennsylvania state universities is underway.

Contract negotiations between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and its faculty union hit an impasse late Tuesday night when the union says the state handed it its last, best offer and was done negotiating.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties hit the picket line shortly after 5:00 a.m. for its more than 5,000 faculty members and coaches after no agreement was reached.

The two sides were unable to reach a deal on proposed raises and health care contributions.

Among the midstate campuses affected are Shippensburg, Millersville, Kutztown and Bloomsburg.

This is the first strike in the system's 34-year history.

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