If the university isn’t careful with labor relations, history could repeat itself.
In light of the 20th anniversary of the 1990 faculty strike, The Temple News [“Twenty years past the picket lines,” Page 1] talked to a few of the the strike’s major players. While the strike occured two decades ago, the major issues that led to it are far from history.
Art Hochner, president of the Temple Association of University Professionals, identified pay, benefits and pensions as the areas of concern in contract negotiations that led to the strike 20 years ago, such areas of concern are still the focus of most contract negotiations today. The strike lasted 29 days and left a clear mark on Temple’s history.
However, it also encouraged students to speak up.
During the strike, students held sit-ins and demonstrations on campus, demanded answers from then-President Peter Liacouras and even printed T-shirts in support of faculty and their return to class.
Similarly, when the Temple Hospital nurses went on strike last spring, student groups held protests in support of the nurses’ union. It is important for students to be aware of and involved in the contract negotiations and administrative decisions that affect their time here.
Last September, two of Temple’s employee unions, TAUP and Temple’s American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees Local 1723 Union, returned to work during the fall semester without contracts. Both TAUP and AFSCME had been without contracts between October 2008 and September 2009. Additionally, adjunct faculty began their push to be a part of the union last year.
Contract battles and the threat of strikes have been an unfortunate but common part of Temple’s recent history. All students, beyond student political groups, should stay informed. During the faculty strike, students were out of class for a month. Contract negotiations, regardless of how peaceful or sometimes bitter they may be, are not a dilemma isolated to the parties at the bargaining table.