The union representing faculty and support staff at Community College of Philadelphia and the college administration bargained late into the evening Monday in hopes of averting a strike before calling it a day and agreeing to resume their talks on Tuesday.
At the end of the night, there seemed to be some hope.
“We’ve made some progress tonight,” said Junior Brainard, co-president of the 1,200-member union. “We’re hoping we can settle it in another day of bargaining.”
Talks will resume at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, again with a mediator present.
Earlier Monday night, before the talks concluded for the day, college spokeswoman Linda Wallace said, “The college will be open tomorrow and classes will be held.” She did not elaborate.
The two sides have been negotiating through a mediator and had been prepared to work into the night again if progress is being made, Brainard said earlier. The talks continued for six hours on Sunday and resumed at noon on Monday, and lasted more than 10 hours.
College president Donald “Guy" Generals said last week that CCP would move to impose a contract — the administration’s so-called last best offer — on members if they go on strike, which could make for a tense showdown at the 28,700-student college.
On campus Monday, classes were continuing but concern was palpable and students were wondering whether the strike would delay the end of the semester, which is just a few weeks away.
“A lot of people are planning to travel in the summer,” said Marah Eid, a freshman studying biology.
A refund if classes are suspended would be little comfort to her.
“I want to pass the courses,” she said.
Students also said they understood their professors’ plight.
“That’s their livelihood,” said Trevor Hoffman, a freshman studying business.
Darren Lazarre, a sophomore studying creative writing, said he didn’t want to see his professors hurt.
“The professors really do care about the students here," he said. "They know about their personal lives.”
Negotiations have dragged on for three years, stalling largely over issues of faculty workload, health insurance, and compensation. Union members last Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to authorize union leaders to call a strike.
Generals said the college would try to hold classes if a strike occurred, but might have to suspend them if not enough professors showed up. Offices and buildings at CCP would remain open, he said.
In January, Generals said the college was considering imposing its last best offer, details of which were released in May. That proposal, retroactive to Sept. 1, 2016, and running through Aug. 31, 2021, would give union members more than a 10 percent cumulative raise, but also would require heavier workloads for newly hired faculty, as well as health-care contributions.
Union members have been operating under the terms of a contract that expired in August 2016.