EAST STROUDSBURG -- Tens of thousands of students at 14 state-run universities--including Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and East Stroudsburg--are out of class because of a strike that began Wednesday morning.
The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties announced Wednesday morning that APSCUF faculty members are officially on strike.
The two sides had to reach an agreement by 5 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19 or more than 5,000 faculty members would hit the picket line.
According to the union, more than 5,000 teachers and coaches have been working with an expired contract for 477 days. The main sticking points are salary and benefits.
The Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education says participating in a strike is up to each faculty member. By law, they also have the right to stay in the classroom to teach. Students say they still plan to head to class even if there's a strike.
Frustration seemed to be the theme of the morning at East Stroudsburg University. East Stroudsburg is just one of the 14 state-run universities with 100,000 students affected by the strike.
“No one said anything, so I don’t know what’s going on,” said one student.
“The president Tweeted it. They also sent out an email that we should go to our classes, see if our professors show up, and if they don’t, to keep up with course work as much as we can,” said freshman Isabella Llaudes.
Students are on edge not knowing how long a strike could last, and how it could affect their futures.
“I’m trying to stay hopeful,” said Llaudes.
“I'm worried how it’s going to affect me. I just got here. I have four more years and I’m like why what’s going to happen,” said Lance Peters, East Stroudsburg University Freshman.
A few students were out and about on ESU’s campus overnight, waiting for word to see if this strike was actually going to take place. One told Newswatch 16 it brought back some memories from high school.
“At Wyoming Area, I experienced one, and it lasted a month,” freshman Daulton Shearer said.
Shearer said the teacher’s strike he experienced in high school just meant fewer breaks, but he believes at the college level, the stakes are much higher.
“There’s going to be a lot of angry parents with all of the money being involved here, so it’s completely different. It’s going to be solved a lot quicker I think,” Shearer said.
Since no contract agreement has been reached, it’s still unclear what will happen with class schedules or possible tuition reimbursements.
According to the State System of Higher Education, each university has developed a response plan to keep its campus open and to keep students on schedule to completing their degrees.
Students click here to learn more about the strike from the state.
To find the latest information about how contract negotiations can affect students from the APSCUF, head here.