TAUP holds informational picket for faculty job security

The three-hour demonstration served to pressure the university and inform students on the union’s requirements for a fair contract.

The Temple Association of University Professionals held a picket at the College of Liberal Arts Tuesday morning. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Temple Association of University Professionals held a three-hour informational picket in front of Gladfelter and Mazur Halls Tuesday to demand the university address their concerns of faculty job security at the negotiating table.

Around a hundred faculty and student participants held “Equity, Dignity and Job Security” or “Job security now” signs and marched in a circle. Chants of “Get up, get down, Philly is a union town” and “Hey hey, ho ho, job cuts have got to go” were amplified by drummers keeping a beat throughout.

“We’ve had 20 negotiating sessions and administration has failed to make any progress on our job security proposals,” said TAUP President Jeffery Doshna. “It’s time for us to show solidarity of everyone in our union now to demand that they negotiate on this really important issue.”

Protesters handed off more signs as new participants joined, many leaving for and arriving from the classes they were teaching. The protest was not a work stoppage and participants were requested to come only when they could.

Doshna held a press conference during the picket to give a speech about the union’s goals and struggles at the negotiating table. 

TAUP and the university began exchanging economic proposals in March, with discussions about healthcare benefits starting in early April. The union wants wage increases across the board to account for inflation and match other institution’s wages.

Despite beginning to address these core concerns, Doshna said job security proposals have not progressed since their initial introduction to the table. 

These include proposals on sick days and sick leave, academic freedom in the classroom, the use of feedback forms to fire faculty and creating equitable processes for discipline and paths for tenure and promotion.

“We now have a choice,” Doshna said. “Do we want a future where we continue to see academic jobs cut, class sizes increased, programs closed, and research labs abandoned for better opportunities at other universities? Or do we deserve a university where the academic mission is invested in?”

Doshna also referenced the job security concerns in the Intellectual Heritage department, when adjunct IH faculty believed for a month that none of them would be rehired for the next semester. While administration has since informed them that this wouldn’t happen, the situation re-emphasized the importance of job security for contingent faculty, Doshna said.

“We remain committed to providing fair working conditions and compensation for faculty and staff, which is why the university was first to make a wage and benefits proposal in negotiations with [TAUP,]” the university wrote in a statement to The Temple News. “This ensured that both parties would be well positioned to have informed discussions about economic issues as we work towards an agreement. We know that equity is important to TAUP. The university is currently evaluating TAUP’s counter proposal alongside the union’s priorities, and we look forward to continuing to bargain in good faith.”

The university approved of the peaceful nature of the demonstration, they wrote in the statement.

The demonstration continued for another hour and a half following Doshna’s speech. Some students joined faculty in the march down the breezeway, grabbing their own signs and yelling along with the chants.

“Administration, even just in the two years I’ve been here, has devalued faculty working conditions and students’ learning conditions,” said Marc Bandaronek, a sophomore community development major who participated in the rally. “For as long as faculty is overworked and underpaid they are undervaluing the operations of the university. Students will not have nearly as good of an experience in the future.”

Angela Darley, a sophomore psychology and gender and sexuality studies major, described her appreciation and love for her own professors as the reason she also joined in.

“I think that [faculty] jobs are so, so valuable and so undervalued,” Darley said. “I think a lot of the student population doesn’t realize how unsecure the jobs of their professors are and if they did, they would be so supportive of this because Temple faculty is what makes Temple, Temple. They’re what makes our academic experience so wonderful.”

Temple’s student government also posted support for TAUP and their fight for job security Monday.

There are three more negotiations scheduled for the next month, with the next being on Wednesday. The university is currently reviewing additional dates for more meetings through the end of May.

“As we have reached agreement on several noneconomic proposals, Temple remains confident that we will land on a contract that is amenable to all parties,” the university statement wrote.

The union will continue to meet with the university until they reach a contract with job security and equity pay, Doshna said.

“The Temple University I started teaching at 20 years ago was not the same place that my son graduated from last year,” Doshna said. “A serious lack of state funding from Harrisburg, which has led to ever increasing tuition borne by our students and their families, a shift to online learning, the erosion of tenure and the shirt to contingency and complicated new areas of learning and research have all changed what higher education is. But we know that when you invest in your faculty, your academic professionals, and your librarians, your university thrives.”

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