Strike averted at Community College of Philadelphia, but bigger funding battle continues

Faculty workloads and healthcare contributions were at the heart of the divide.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The Community College of Philadelphia and its faculty union reached a tentative labor deal Wednesday night, potentially averting a strike after weeks of mounting tension.

Union membership still needs to ratify for the deal for it to become official.

The Faculty and Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia, which represents about 1,200 professors and other employees, has been without a contract since 2016. The new deal would run three and a half years, said Jamie Zigarelli, a CCP English professor and union spokesperson.

Faculty workloads and healthcare contributions were at the heart of the divide, which threatened to cripple one of the city’s largest colleges just as the spring semester wound down.

Union membership approved a strike, but never walked off the job. Representatives from the union met with college officials Monday for last-ditch negotiations, which ended up lasting more than three days.

In the end, Zigarelli said, the union received key concessions on the number of classes faculty will have to teach each semester.

CCP has bout 28,000 students, about half of whom are enrolled full-time.

When Pennsylvania established a community college system in 1963, the city and state were supposed to each provide about a third of the revenue, with student tuition making up the final third.

Today, about 56 percent of CCP’s revenue comes from student tuition, about 24 percent comes from the state government, and about 19 percent comes from the city. The city share has increased slightly over the last ten years, though that has been offset by a similar decline in state share.

The college has an operating budget of $132.1 million.