Temple faculty overwhelmingly approved a contract offer last night, ending a bitter dispute that has raged for six months. Faculty voted 338 to 65 with one abstention to approve the offer. According to the contract, Temple faculty will receive a five percent across-the-board salary increase for three years, with an extra one percent increase in the third year. In the fourth year, the faculty will receive a two percent salary increase. The contract also resolves the issue of health care co-payments, which has been one of the thorniest problems in the contract dispute. The agreement maintains the co-payment but also allows for the creation of a joint faculty-administration Health Care Advisory Board to study health care costs and make recommendations. Faculty members will receive rebates of the co-payment if health-care costs rise less than six percent in a one year period. Six other unions at Temple had already agreed to the co-payments when the faculty went on strike in September. Arthur Hochner, president of the Temple Association of University Professors, said that the faculty did not take issue with the $260 co-payment which the administration initially requested, but rather with the reasoning behind it. He added that he felt TAUP got a better deal than the other unions who signed on to the deal in September. "[The six unions] don't have an input and we do," Hochner said. "We do want them to join us. We can all benefit in the future." "It went better then I thought," Hochner added. "We made a lot of gains." Temple spokesperson Kathy Gosliner said last night that the university's administration was "happy" that the dispute was finally resolved. One issue that was not resolved by the contract, however, was make-up pay for faculty during the dispute. In November, Temple administrators offered faculty one-third of their regular pay for the period when the faculty worked under court order. The faculty was ordered to return to work by a Common Pleas Court judge on October 3. "Last November's offer of one-third pay was objectionable," Hochner said. "Now we have none, but we have a chance of getting 100 percent." Both the union and the administration said that it may be difficult to start "a healing process" after months of bad blood. "It's been a very difficult time," said Temple spokesperson Gosliner. "We have to move forward -- it's not going to happen overnight." Hochner said last night that although he now has reservations about the administration, he feels that changes must be made. "It became clear that we're dealing with a punitive administration here," Hochner said. "This is an administration that plays hardball, that takes advantage of people weaker than them. That perception isn't going to change but their attitudes have to change if there is going to be real healing. If there isn't [a change] it's just going to be a repeat of the bitterness." The strike began on September 4, the first day of classes last semester, when the union called for a faculty walkout. The strike lasted 29 days, and, before it was over, over 1800 students withdrew from the University. Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Samuel Lehrer ordered the teachers back to work on October 3. Lehrer said that the strike, which left over 23,000 students without at least one class and 6000 with none, had damaged education for the students. Both sides said that the decision should help Temple's sagging enrollment. Only about one-half of students who withdrew during the strike have returned this semester, according to Gosliner. "It absolutely has been hurtful in our ability to recruit," Gosliner said. "But we're rebounding, and with a contract agreement we should be able to do even more." Hochner said that the length of the contract guarantees stability for incoming students. "The contract goes for four years, so anyone enrolling this year is not going to see any problems while they're here," Hochner said. The contract agreement must still face the vote of the Temple Board of Trustees. The board will vote Thursday morning at 10:15 in conference, and is expected to approve the contract.Comments powered by Disqus
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