Strikes typically revolve around a call to action. However, this is not an isolated event; instead, walkouts require that an interaction between the strikers and the public occurs in order to inform others of the unjust treatment taking place. The APSCUF strike caught the attention of multiple media outlets, broadcasting the news to people all over Pennsylvania. At Millersville University, this created multiple interactions between the faculty on strike and the public. According to the 37 transcripts, experiences with the public varied; although, the majority of interviewees acknowledged that most people remained extremely supportive.
Christine Filippone (Art History) pushed this forward, noting the “real, overall support” she received from the public.1 She noted, that every morning on her way to work, she stopped at a “little coffee shop.” During the months leading up to the strike, she talked to the people there about the events taking place. She recalled that the responses she received typically fell along the lines of “good luck, we support you.”2 Even at the conference she attended in October, she recalled that “all of my colleagues...were very supportive,” which included a “really broad support among different demographics.”3
This diversity of support extended to a multitude of various outside forces including: the borough police, the district attorney’s office in Lancaster, truck drivers downtown, the owners of the Sugar Bowl, UPS drivers, and even Mayor Rick Gray of Lancaster. In his interview, Barry David (Applied Engineering, Safety and Technology) summarized some of these positive experiences. In order to guarantee the safety of everyone involved in the strike, he worked exclusively with the campus police, the borough police and the district attorney’s office. He felt good that all four groups “could work together quite well.”4 He maintained, that the other groups didn’t appear resentful or angry in any way, instead, they remained respectful and very supportive. Being unionized themselves, the police in particular understood the dilemma faculty currently faced.
At the Ware Center, Robyn Davis (History) commented on the friendly atmosphere generated by the people employed there. As Millersville University owned the building, the employees at the center also worked for the school. However, they belonged to different union, prohibiting them from actively engaging in the walkout. Nonetheless, Davis felt that they were “amazingly welcoming, displaying warmth and support” to the cause.5
Another early experience involved the Mayor Rick Gray of Lancaster. During the strike, a meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, October 19th, at the Ware Center. Davis recalled that “folks of all kinds walked behind them,” heading towards their designated spot to meet.6 However, when Mayor Rick Gray arrived, Davis remembered him asking that if he entered the building, would that mean he crossed the picket line. Initially unsure as of how to respond--being the ”first time any of us were doing any of this”--she finally told him that “it actually is crossing the picket line.”7 Leaving the choice up to him, he decided not to attend the meeting, showing what Davis viewed as an act of support.
However, as Line Bruntse (Sculpture, 3D Design and Drawing ) maintained, the responses from the public varied. This meant that some reactions were negative. In Carrie Smith’s (Sociology) interview, she thought back to one particular moment on the picket line. On the third day of the strike a car pulled up near her picketing location. Leaning out the window was a child about the age of ten. Looking at the picketers, he exclaimed, “Get back to the work.”8 Aiming to keep the atmosphere positive, Smith simply smiled at him, letting him know that they would “when we get a fair contract.”9
For her, this experience represented the lesson of how to respond to those who disagreed. During these instances it became important to keep a positive attitude, even in the face of opposition. By refusing to respond in a negative manner, this increased the possibility for discussion. In some cases, this helped to create an understanding between the picketers and the public. Greg Seigworth (Communication and Theatre) recalled one such moment.
Standing on the picket line close to the George Street Cafe, an older women in her car stopped in order to converse with the picketers. From her standpoint, she really didn’t feel in favor of the strike; however, instead of simply driving away she asked “What is this about?”10 Taking the time to explain the situation, members on the picket line shared their side of the story. In the end, although she felt unprepared to support APSCUF’s cause at the moment, she indicated that the conversation helped her gain a better sense of understanding.
- Christine Filippone (Art History) interview by Stephanie pennucci and Tatiana Pashkova-Balkenhol, November 15, 2016, transcript, Millersville University Special Collections, Millersville, PA.
- Barry David (Applied Engineering, Safety and Technology), interview by Elizabeth Nelson and Katie Barrett, November 28, 2016, transcript, Millersville University Special Collections, Millersville, PA.
- Robyn Davis (History) interview by Elizabeth Nelson and Katie Barrett, November 30, 2016, transcript, Millersville University Special Collections, Millersville, PA.
- Carrie Smith (Sociology) interview by Tatiana Pashkova-Balkenhol, March 10, 2017, transcript, Millersville University Special Collections, Millersville, PA.
- David, interview.
- Greg Seigworth (Communication and Theatre) interview by Stephanie Pennucci and Tatiana Pashkova-Balkenhol, December 5, 2016, transcript, Millersville University Special Collections, Millersville, PA.