WEST CHESTER, PA (WTXF) - After negotiations broke down between the University Teachers Union (APSCUF) and the State university system Friday, the union has officially gone on strike. A four-day self-imposed media blackout has ended.
14 state run universities, 105,000 students, and 5,500 faculty members are affected.
Erik Walsh, a junior, said, "I just hope that it doesn't go on too long when we start missing assignments and we can't finish out the semester of classes."
Hopeful for an 11th hour deal -- West Chester University faculty filed out of a union meeting with no contract and prepared to hit the picket lines Friday morning.
They are among 5,500 faculty teaching at 14 state run universities who have been working without a contract for the past 15 months.
Among the issues, pay raises. Medical contributions. And part time professors. Students feel like they're caught in the middle.
"We're not sure if our graduation date is going to be pushed back it's a little worrisome because we all have plans after graduation,” Christiana Borghi, a senior, said.
"If we do go on strike for a very long time. What about tuition reimbursement. I am paying for this. And now I'm losing out on my money,” Cami DiMarco, a senior, said.
In the event of a walkout students at West Chester and Cheney University are still being told to come to class. But if teachers are a no-show after 15 minutes students can leave.
APSCUF faculty members are officially on strike. Our website is overloaded. Press release will be visible soon.— APSCUF (@APSCUF) October 19, 2016
"Are you hoping for a strike? Yes. For like a day or 2. Maybe Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Anything more than that it would be a hindrance to my school,” Christian Orlando, a sophomore, said.
A prolonged strike could mean December graduations, financial aid, even some of this weekend's homecoming activities could be effected.
A media blackout between the union and the state university system had left students in the dark to find out at 5:00 a.m. whether teachers will be coming to class.
Governor Wolf released the following statement on the strike.
"I am extremely disappointed in the failure of PASSHE and APSCUF to reach an agreement on a contract. The resulting strike is detrimental to the system and will have far-reaching effects for years to come. In just under two years I have increased funding to the state system by more than $30 million, a 7.5 percent increase over 2014-15, in order to begin restoring the harmful cuts made under the previous administration. The shortsightedness on both sides is counter to my efforts on behalf of the system and hurts the dedicated professors and university staff, and students and their families who are paying tuition to these universities. 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. I urge both sides to return to the table immediately and continue negotiations until an agreement is reached."