TAUP finds cross-campus solidarity at City Hall rally

The union was met with support from Pennsylvania legislators and various regional universities at its rally for a fair contract Friday at noon.

Faculty protested in a TAUP rally on campus in October 2023 when the contract originally expired. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Association of University Professionals held a rally with a few dozen people at City Hall Friday afternoon to address contract concerns amid months of ongoing negotiations with the university.

The union has been negotiating a new contract since its last collective bargaining agreement expired on Oct. 15, 2023. TAUP wants to center job security and diversity, equity and inclusion in the next agreement.

State Sen. Nikil Saval and State House Rep. Rick Krajewski spoke at the demonstration, along with professors and undergraduate supporter Kate Witiak, a sophomore sociology major.

“I know we know that the future of the Commonwealth, the future of higher education requires investment,” Saval said addressing the crowd. “It requires increasing the number of full-time faculty [and increasing] job security of non-tenure-track and adjunct faculty.”

The union increased efforts to involve students and other faculty members following recent uncertainty about the future of adjuncts jobs in the Intellectual Heritage department.

Debi Lemieur, TAUP adjunct constituency council chair and IH faculty member, began the rally by addressing the crowd.

“Contingent faculty at Temple University have no guaranteed job,” Lemieur said. “Most of these jobs are filled by women and people of color. That’s not right. We need to have better equity.” 

Job security concerns among professors are not limited to Temple. Unionized faculty from regional universities are also advocating for fair contracts. The University of the Arts, Community College of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, West Chester University and Rutgers University, expressed their solidarity with TAUP by attending and speaking at the event. 

The United Academics of Philadelphia, a union supporting more than 15,000 faculty members across Philadelphia universities, recognizes adjuncts share common struggles and organizing is crucial for those teaching at multiple institutions, said Bradley Philbert, UAP’s executive vice president and an adjunct faculty member at several Philadelphia universities.

“Organizing is how we win these fights for basic job security for ourselves and the generations of educators who will inherit these institutions from us,” Philbert said. “Solidarity today, tomorrow, next week, next year, solidarity forever.”

Ken Ruff, a science and technology professor, also spoke about racial equity within the university, another TAUP demand as negotiations continue. 

“When it comes to racial equity and justice, job security and working hard for people of color has to be one and the same,” Ruff said. 

Participants chanted “What do we want? Job security! When do we want it? Now!” intermittently throughout the rally. Loud honking from passing cars echoed behind those speaking as an expression of solidarity in response to a “Honk if you [love] unions” UAP sign, drawing more attention to the groups.

“I thought [the rally] was really heartwarming and it made me feel hopeful for the future that we could get so many institutions to show support for one another collectively,” Witiak said.

TAUP members will gather again on April 9 in front of Mazur and Gladfelter Halls to hold an informational picket and share their negotiation demands with the student body.

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