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Penn State employee union votes 'yes' on option to strike

A front view of Old Main on Penn State's University Park campus.
Sydney Roach
A front view of Old Main on Penn State's University Park campus.

The Teamsters Local 8, which represents about 2,500 Penn State employees, voted overwhelmingly this week to authorize a strike, as negotiations to reach a deal continue.

The current contract expires June 30. Jonathan Light, the union president, said there’s still time to agree on a contract with the university.

“They know the results," Light said after voting finished Wednesday. "And now let's get this deal done. What we're asking for is a fair contract. That's all we're asking for.”

The union represents technical service employees at University Park and other campuses. Of the 2,053 employees who cast ballots, 1,878 or 91% voted yes to authorizing a strike.

Light said both sides are still at the bargaining table.

“We're not there yet," he said. "But they're working with us, they’re talking to us. And we're going to get this to where we need to be. We believe that wholeheartedly.”

The university has offered 3% wage increases for the next three years. But Light said workers are trying to catch up after getting raises that have not kept up with inflation.

In a statement, the university said it’s “optimistic that a fair and competitive agreement will be reached.”

The Teamsters Local 8 is receiving support from other local unions — the Seven Mountains AFL-CIO and the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

A statement from PSEA's Central Region President Del Fuller and Central Division President Anne Styborski says, in part: " … we know how crucial staff are to making institutions of learning run. Penn State could not function without Teamsters Local 8 members, and they deserve a fair contract that honors their crucial role in the University community.

"We urge Penn State to bargain a fair deal with their employees. We are ready to support Teamsters at the University Park, Dubois, and Altoona campuses as they negotiate for a new contract.”

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.
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