Coordinating the Efforts
As the first physical walk-out, the successful leadership of both the mobilization committee and faculty coordinators provided the initial glue that helped hold the myriad of experiences together. Preparation for the event began circulating about a year after the initial contract expiration. Hereafter, conference calls ensued bi-weekly between chapter presidents on the Negotiations Committee and the mobilization committee. As president of APSCUF, Barry David (Applied Engineering, Safety and Technology) managed mobilization calls “from about late May all the way through to October, in addition to the chapter presidents’ calls and negotiations committee calls.”1
The days directly before the strike mainly involved “rallying people together to perform on the mobilization committee locally.”2 Serving as mobilization chair, Ken Smith (Economics) aided David by ensuring that people volunteered as picket captains, organizing the lines, getting signs together, and disseminating information to faculty about anticipated procedures if the strike commenced. The day of the strike mainly involved rallying everyone to their designated picketing locations. Circulation of these organization efforts started at 4:59 Wednesday morning as David sent out emails containing the news before departing for campus.
To pull efforts together, a number of interviewees served in leadership positions on the picket lines. Thomas Neuville (Educational Foundations) diligently worked to create a positive community on the sidewalk. Spending most of his time at the juncture of George Street and Cottage Avenue, Neuville encouraged friendly interactions between strikers and the public. Despite their reaction, he “made a point to smile and wave and connect with each driver” that passed.3 For him, walk-outs depended primarily upon connecting with the public. Whether for, or against, the cause, the union’s interaction with the outside community provided a great possibility for making their point. However, this only stemmed mainly from what Neuville termed positive environmental press. Therefore, it remained crucial for picketers to display amiable behavior on the street.
Concerned about a possible break in communication, a variety of volunteers participated in spreading information via email and word-of-mouth. As president of APSCUF, David acted as the initial informant for faculty members. During Wednesday and Thursday night of the strike, he engaged in conference calls between chapter presidents and the mobilization committee. Acting as a messenger, he relayed the information generated during these meetings to faculty members via email. That’s essentially how he saw his role: “trying to communicate with the faculty, sending them information best I could, and thanking them for the support.”4
Information then traveled through moving dispatchers, such as Smith, “running back and forth between our office at George Street Cafe and the picket lines to distribute information.”5 Outside the lines of striking staff, various academic departments passed the news between one another. In the Department of Educational Foundations, union representatives Sandra Deemer and Laurie Hanich established a communication system of personal emails and cell phone numbers prior to the advent of the strike.6 Through websites on social media, Hanich provided additional news to the department. The two went on to participate in the demonstrations, taking photos and “passing them along to leadership so they could get them posted.”7
To create an overall reasonable environment, the strike required coordinating efforts among protesters, law enforcement, and outside organizations alike. Employed as Chief of Police for Millersville police station, Pete Anders held himself accountable for ensuring order, safety, and non-interference of the operations within, and surrounding, the university. In achieving these goals, Anders became “very communicative with those he believed will be involved with the strike, and anybody else that might be attracted to areas if there’s picketing.”8 First, Anders established a positive relationship between himself and APSCUF president, David. The pair met several times during the late summer, and again on multiple occasions in September, creating an easy ability to convene and air any concerns during the course of the strike. The anticipated meetings opened a doorway for healthy communications that “didn’t impugn” on what APSCUF was looking to do, “but also kept everybody safe on campus.”9
- Barry David (Applied Engineering, Safety and Technology), interview by Elizabeth Nelson and Katie Barrett, November 28, 2016, transcript, Millersville University Special Collections, Millersville, PA.
- Thomas Neuville (Educational Foundations) interview by Lauren Cameron, April 26, 2017, transcript, Millersville University Collections, Millersville, PA.
- David, interview.
- Ken Smith (Economics) interview by Hunter Mengel, December 6, 2016, transcript, Millersville University Special Collections, Millersville, PA.
- Sandra Deemer (Educational Foundations) interview by Katie Barrett, March 7, 2017, transcript, Millersville University Special Collections, Millersville, PA.
- Laurie Hanich (Educational Foundations) interview by Stephanie Pennucci and Tatiana Pashkova-Balkenhol, November 21, 2016, transcript, Millersville University Special Collections, Millersville, PA.
- Peter Anders (Chief of Police for Millersville police station) interview by Lauren Cameron, February, 21, 2017, transcript, Millersville University Special Collections, Millersville, PA.