Strike threat looms at Community College of Philadelphia

Graduating students left in limbo as strike talks continue

Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Students concerned as strike talks continue at CCP
Students concerned as strike talks continue at CCP. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News at Noon on April 2, 2019.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Negotiations between the Community College of Philadelphia and its faculty and staff continued Tuesday in hopes of averting a strike.

Students are filled with anxiety as a strike could disrupt their classes. For seniors, it may mean their graduation date is postponed.

AFT Local 2026 co-president Junior Brainard said he remains hopeful they can make progress on a myriad of issues concerning a new contract for 1,200 faculty and support staff when they return to the negotiating table at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, but the threat of a strike still looms.

College President Donald Generals declined an interview, but has previously said if a strike happens, they would try to hold classes. He admitted he might have to suspend classes if not enough professors showed up.

Brainard said there are number of issues still unresolved.

"It has to do with the workload of our faculty. It has to do with our class sizes. It has to do with the support services our students can get while they're here," Brainard said.

The back and forth between the two parties has been going on for three years now. At issue are demands by faculty for lighter class loads and high pay.

But college administrators said meeting those demands would lead to an increase in the budget of nearly $80 million over the 8 year contract which CCP officials say would result in tuition increases.

But both sides are willing compromise.

All of the uncertainty of a strike has many of the 27,000 students in a state of angst.

Sophomore Jessica Trinh said, "A lot of students, a lot of my friends, they really worry about their graduation date, cause they're going to graduate this spring."

Naomi Smith, the associate editor of the student newspaper The Vanguard said the students that are graduating are "not happy about this at all."

"A lot of students just log on to their Instagram or their Twitter trying to see what's going on. I literally have my friends texting me every second like, 'Is there school tomorrow? Is there school tomorrow? Is this strike happening?" Smith said.

Smith said that some of the newer students have the misunderstanding that a strike would simply mean a vacation for them. What they don't realize is that they still have to complete their 15 week course, meaning the semester would be extended, imperiling the commencement date for graduates.