Posted by: gdevi | October 21, 2016

LHU APSCUF Strike – Day 3 and Contract!

A beautiful day. It stormed all night last night heavy heavy rains big trees uprooted. The high school had a two hour delayed opening, and then a cancelation. But K and all other faculty and I were at the picket line at 6:45 am. Yesterday Philip and Rick had covered all the signs with plastic so they won’t get wet in the rain. We walked with umbrellas and wearing ponchos. We had an incredible day of picketing today. At one point, the president came and looked at us as we walked in front of his office and then he waved to me. I waved back. The students walked along with us. A nice lady in the community drove by and left some donuts for us. Students made soup for us–chicken noodle and vegetarian. It was actually incredible. Then Representative Mike Hanna came by on his way to his downtown office and told us that there might be a tentative agreement in the offing. We couldn’t believe it. We had no news from Harrisburg that the chancellor’s office was going to meet with the faculty union. But we kept hoping that the negotiations would start again.

And then just like that, shortly after 4pm I was walking the picket line and Peter called me and told me that the negotiations were successful; we have a contract; the strike was over. The strike was over. It was great to cross campus drive and walk over to the other side and tell everyone the good news! We took down all the strike and picketing things. I came home fed Daisy and went back to the Masonic temple where we had originally scheduled a 5:30 union meeting. K and most other faculty were there already. It was jubilation jubilation jubilation. It was absolutely unbelievable and joyous. Indeed as Margaret Mead noted “Never doubt that a small group of committed, thoughtful citizens can change the world; indeed that is the only thing that ever has.”

Everyone was at the temple. We had done something incredible in Pennsylvania’s labor history. The very first faculty labor union strike in PA history and we won it. Chancellor Brogan and the state system had to give us pretty much everything we asked for in terms of equal rights for temporary faculty, faculty professional development funds, faculty workload and equivalencies, our step increases etc and all of their original destructive proposals removed from the contract. We accepted their health insurance plan. But we had decided that we would never compromise on equal rights of temporary faculty–never; they cannot create a two tier system on our campuses–and we did not. We got everything we asked for. Stan went over each article in the contract. There were many many speeches, lots of hugs, and lots of cheer. It was absolutely the best day of my life–so much good for so many people so completely. And as Mark said, each gain we made was “a door closed.” It was just a stirring evening.

We ran an extremely well-organized strike committee–Rick and Peter (mobilization co-chairs), Stan (APSCUF president), David (picket chair), Mark (our spokesperson), Erin (student liaison), Katie (social media), Laxman and Matt (at large), Philip (sign chair), Brent (department rep), Ralph (alternate building assignment), Shelley (our office manager), Susan (our solidarity fund chair) and I was the public relations chair.  It was a totally awesome evening.

After the union meeting everyone adjourned to Uncle Albert’s to celebrate the strike and the contract. I don’t drink — Gayatri is wholesome, Rick says, but with a great sense of humor! — thanks, buddy! –so I had a ginger ale and french fries but everyone else drank and we had great food and great conversation. I love you all! A great day for APSCUF, a great day for labor unions! Viva la huelga!

And we couldn’t have done it without you, dear students! Thank you for everything. Don’t let anyone tell you that your voices are not without power. You did so much for us. Your sea-like surge to defend our rights frightened the system to its core. You became our face and our voice. Thank you so much. We created a special chant for you:

“We love our students, yes we do

Chancellor Brogan, why don’t you?

Well done, everyone. And now off to bed to get a good night’s sleep.

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