By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Negotiations between the union and Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education are going on all weekend in Harrisburg. Friday was day one of a three day bargaining session. Folks on both sides of table say they’re hopeful a decision can be made by the end of the weekend.

Students took to the sidewalks outside the student union at California University of Pennsylvania holding a peaceful protest against the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

All of this was going on as California University’s first African American female president gave her inauguration speech at Steele Hall across the street.

“I’m just standing up for professors hoping get good a contract negotiation,” sophomore Alex Pasculle said.

“This sign I’m holding here is Quality Faculty Equals Quality Education because at the current contract, they’re lowering the quality for faculty and trying to over work them,” Senior Jessica Merando said.

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These students say they stand by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, known as APSCUF, which is the union representing faculty and coaches at 14 state owned universities including CAL U. Students aren’t looking forward to professors potentially missing class if a strike happens.

“I’m paying to come here to go to class and not just sit around not do nothing,” freshman Noah Edwards said.

“It’s not just about salary. It’s about other changes. They try to pit us against adjunct faculty by saying here’s your raise now be happy and are much more concerned about educational quality being reduced by the states contract,” union spokesperson Swarn Gill said.

A spokesperson with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education released this statement saying:

“We remain hopeful we can reach an agreement prior to the union going on strike, which it has said it will do Wednesday morning. We are attempting to negotiate an agreement that is fair to everyone, especially our students.”

If an agreement isn’t made, but progress is being made, both sides will remain at the table. If not, union faculty members across the state plan to go on strike at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19.

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