Temple University professors rejected a contract proposal and stayed out on strike Monday, raising the odds of a lost semester for thousands of students.
A court hearing was to resume Monday on the university's request for a back-to-work order. The 1,100-member union went on strike over pay Sept. 4 at the private university, which has 30,000 students.Union members rejected the latest proposal 372-62 Sunday night, saying it offered little new. "Dump Pete! Dump Pete!" many professors chanted after the meeting, referring to university President Peter J. Liacouras.
Temple officials have said if pickets were still marching Tuesday, 40 percent, or 1,900 of Temple's 4,700 classes, would be canceled. They said there is not enough time to make up lost class time before the spring semester.
Some 23,000 students are missing at least one class and 6,000 have had no classes at all because of the walkout.
Common Pleas Judge Samuel Lehrer held two days of hearings last week on the back-to-work request. Union president Art Hochner said the union had not decided how to respond if the judge orders professors back to work.
Some students have blocked city streets and stood outside a courtroom, demanding an end to the dispute. Some were arrested for invading Liacouras' office.
"We're very upset, we just want it over. Nobody is interested in the students anymore. We're like pawns," said Rachel Smith, a 19-year-old sophomore from Margate, N.J. "If I transfer I'm not coming back."
"They are yanking the carpet from under my feet," said Doug Miller, 27, an architecture student. If classes don't resume, he will not be taking enough credits to be classified a full-time student and could lose at least some of his financial aid.
The proposal rejected Sunday included 5 percent raises in each of the next four years and a requirement that professors contribute $260 a year toward health coverage.
The professors, whose salaries average about $45,500, want 7 percent raises and do not want to pay for health care.
Temple chief negotiator Bob Harrington said he was disappointed by the vote. He said the union broke agreements that the entire bargaining unit would vote on the proposal and that the leadership would not recommend how to vote.
Hochner said only dues-paying members were allowed to vote under the union's constitution.