PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nearly 28,000 students at the Community College of Philadelphia are facing uncertainty Friday, as their faculty and staff could go on strike.
Standing outside a boardroom, in the same building as the president’s office, Community College of Philadelphia students, faculty and staff made their voices and messages known. Despite voting for a strike, they want to continue with the American Federation of Teachers Local Union 2026 contract negotiations.
“If we don’t get it, no one can. If we don’t get it, shut it down,” faculty members chanted.
This week, union members nearly unanimously voted to go on strike as early as next week, which could delay graduation for some of CCP’s 20,000 students.
“We would love to avoid a strike,” union president Junior Brainard said. “We would love to the additional prices that would create and that’s why we’re here, willing to negotiate.”
The union’s gripe is heavy teacher workloads and low pay for other staff and faculty, like Verra Green, who is a housekeeper.
“I make $13.49 an hour and I’ve been here a total of 18 years, so I have two other jobs,” Green said.
The national president of the American Federation of Teachers called on the school’s president to compromise.
“We’re gonna make sure, regardless of whether he chooses to or not, he will hear us,” national president Randi Winegarden said.
Eyewitness News took their concerns to CCP Board of Trustees chair Jeremiah White and president Dr. Donald Generals.
“We offered the best and final agreement back in May of last year and that’s what we’re standing on,” Dr. Generals said.
White says the offer is about the longevity of the school, touting the fact that CCP hasn’t raised tuition in five years.
“We want to work with out faculty, we want to be a cohesive organization,” White said. “We don’t want to have this strike, we don’t want to have division, so we want to try and negotiate.”
A bargaining session is scheduled for Sunday evening.
If a strike actually happens, the union says it will give students at least a 24-hour warning.