Temple faculty, students rally before faculty contracts lapse

The rally outside of Charles Library on Tuesday attracted local legislators and members of other unions as well.

A crowd of approximately 200 students, faculty and staff rallied for Temple Association of University Professionals outside Charles Library on Tuesday, Oct. 15. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT, The Temple News

Nearly 200 people rallied outside Charles Library in support of Temple faculty on Tuesday, hours before their contract expired at midnight. 

Temple Association of University Professionals, the faculty union, has been preparing for negotiations and talking with Temple informally since January, said TUAP President Steve Newman.

The union wants to guarantee three percent across-the-board raises each year for full time staff, create a designated financial pool for the hiring and retention of diverse staff, and create contract language that protects the intellectual property rights of faculty who author courses, among other demands, according to their website.

TUAP, which represents 3,000 employees, began formal contract negotiations with the university in April. It was the first time adjunct and full-time faculty bargained together, The Temple News reported. 

Both sides have so far not been able to agree on the terms of issues such as contracts for adjuncts and raises for professors, Newman said. 

After the first round of contracts fell through, both sides agreed to put off meeting again until after the Board of Trustees passed the university’s budget, and didn’t get back to the negotiating table until August 13, Newman said.

“We are confident that negotiators for the university and TAUP will continue to work in the spirit of cooperation, with a focus on reaching a fair agreement while always keeping our students’ best interests as a top priority,” President Richard Englert and Provost JoAnn Epps wrote in a statement on Oct. 15.

Many in the crowd were undergraduate and graduate students who came out to show their support for their professors. Attendees held signs that read “Teachers invest in our future, @Temple invest in them” and “Reimburse work fairly! Is this really too much to ask?”

“The faculty have a big impact on our experience here at Temple, and if they get what they deserve, with good working conditions and benefits, that will, in turn, benefit us too,” said Juliana Swift, a sophomore communication studies and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies major.

Carla Anderson, an English instructor, wants multi-semester contracts for adjunct instructors in the new contract, she said Tuesday.

“I don’t really know semester to semester if I have a job,” Anderson said.  “We’re hoping to bargain for multi-semester appointments, where I would know that I have something for fall and spring at Temple, and not being worried about shopping around or going to a bunch of different colleges.”

“I want to make sure I’m not the only one getting something out of this institution, but that it’s a place of fairness.” said Marley McMahon, a sophomore psychology major.  “I just wouldn’t get my education without them, that’s why I need to fight for them, because I’m also fighting for myself.”

Having faculty and librarians in insecure working conditions is going to have an impact on the students, said Stan McDonald, a non-tenure track faculty member who teaches in the first year writing program.

“Faculty are worried about their work next semester, or how much money they are having to pay for health care, it’s going to have an effect on students’ abilities to do well,” McDonald said.

Attendees of the rally also included members of other local unions and several legislators. Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym said that students’ advocacy for the union’s demands can make a difference in the negotiations.

“It is time for us to stand together with everybody, especially with TAUP, who has stood for so many important causes, not only for labor, but for the health and quality of the city of Philadelphia,” Gym said.

“To have hundreds of people like these folks show up and show their solidarity, it really puts the wind in our sails, so we’re very grateful,” Newman said.

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