Staff members at more than a dozen Pennsylvania public universities ended a three day long strike last week. The professors walked off the job after disagreements with the old expired contract. Relations between the union and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education broke off when both parties could not come to an agreement about salaries and health care costs.
This strike affected the universities such as Bloomsburg University, Cheyney University, and Mansfield University. Although classes were not taking place, the students were offered activities by the university such as free movies and games during the strike. Dave Reed, the House Majority Leader, stated that “The strike which has been called will harm students whom both sides claim to care about. Students and families have made incredible investments, yet have classes without professors.”
The strike ended on Friday after both parties realized that the students will be the ones who suffer the most from these disagreements. The final agreement includes an increase in pay and allowed the state to reduce the cost of health care. Under the new proposal, the faculty raises would range from around 7% to 18% over four years. The staff will also receive an additional payment in cash of $1000 in January 2017. In addition, the change in the health-care proposal will increase the faculty’s insurance premium every two weeks.
Strikes like this are never the first choice of any party in the negotiation. The state department of education fears to lose its ability to teach its students and give them their tuition’s worth, while the teachers’ union also wishes to avoid disadvantageous acts towards the students. However, in situations like this, the teachers hold more clout than the education department in this case, due to the difficulty of replacing teachers when the union is nationwide. If the department wishes the schools to remain open, they need the union to cooperate, and thus a strike is a surefire way to obtain demands, within reason.
Strikes and Unions have been a large part of the American system of fair wages and ethical working conditions. While a drastic measure, they have become increasingly less risky and more fruitful as the power and clout of various workers’ unions has increased. While there are many political implications of this balance of power, in this particular instance, it is good that a peaceable resolution was reached quickly and without too much loss of classtime to the students.