First Day of Faculty Strike at ESU

EAST STROUDSBURG -- For the most part, students walked into empty classrooms Wednesday as many of their professors walked the picket line.

Their demands include better healthcare and what they see as fairer contracts.

"We have been offered, the system offered other professors a pretty good salary package, but they weren't so generous with the adjuncts, so they want to divide us and get the union to neglect the people who need a union the most," said Dr. Allan Benn, English professor and spokesman for APSCUF at East Stroudsburg University.

One of those adjunct professors is Yolanda Blasini, who teaches in the education department.

"They want to increase our workload and reduce our pay, so that in itself is wrong. We work just as hard if not harder and we are part of the faculty," said Blasini.

Teachers are upset to see students walking in then immediately walking back out of classrooms but still feel this strike needed to happen.

East Stroudsburg University is one of 14 state-run universities in Pennsylvania where faculty is now on strike. More than 5,000 professors have been working under an expired contract for more than a year at universities including Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, Mansfield, and East Stroudsburg.

"I’m a little worried about what it's going to do for graduation dates and how it will work in the long run. I don't know how long it's going to last and what it will do coming up," said Grace Tynemouth, East Stroudsburg University student.

Joanne Bruno is the university provost and vice president of academic affairs. She says aside from the strike, it's business as usual on campus.

"We are very sure to have a plan in the event of one, two, or more weeks of interruption because of something out of our control, and a labor action is something out of our control, so we have prepared how we will make up students’ lost time in classes," said Bruno.

According to the provost, if this strike goes on longer than a week, the plan to help students get their classes in by holding classes on alternate days, weekends, and nights, or online for those that allow.