Professors warn students about possible strike at Pa. schools

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - A potential strike is inching closer to a reality at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities.

Professors at Kutztown Univeristy in Berks County sent out a warning Wednesday to every student on campus.

Students were inundated with information four days after delegates from each of the universities met in State College and unanimously approved a strike authorization vote.

The faculty union at K.U. left a letter on tables inside the academic forum. It was posted inside the library, and the letter was saturated all across campus.

Faculty members want to keep students updated on what's going on and how this could affect them. The letter detailed contract negotiations between the faculty union and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

"I really hope this gets sorted out, and I hope the professors get what they want in a reasonable fashion," said Allison Basiaga, a senior who's worried she won't graduate on time if the teachers walk off campus.

A possible strike seems more likely by the day. Now, faculty members want students to know what's being considered.

The letter read faculty will be faced with an increased workload with no extra pay. According to the letter, that would result in less time to devote to each course, and more competition among students for office hours.

"Being given a larger workload for the same amount of money its understandable they wouldn't be happy about it," said Ben Palochak, a junior who understands the faculty's concerns.

The letter also explained how lecturers, graduate assistants and teacher assistants could replace full-time tenure and tenure-track faculty.

That's a move KU's faculty union said would result in an exodus of their best teachers.

"It's really scary because I don't know what my classes are going to be next semester now if some of my teachers go on strike," said Ciarra Ottaviano, a sophomore who is against a strike.

PASSHE spokesman Kenn Marshall responded to the letter distributed to students and said, "It's sad the union had to resort to misrepresenting the facts to gain support for their position. These were ideas considered over a year ago that never made it to the bargaining table."

With the letter around campus, the word "strike" had students concerned.

"If they're going to have a strike I'm not going to be coming back," said Laura Landolt, a sophomore who plans to find another school if the strike happens.

"We're here to learn. We're in college because we do want the education," said David Eisen, a sophomore who admitted he'd like the time off but is at school to learn. "It's a money issue not a student issue, and that's what it's going to come down to."

The next bargaining session with PASSHE and KU's faculty union will be on Nov. 2. A faculty union vote is also scheduled for November 12 through 14 at KU to give leadership the authority for a strike.

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