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Breakthrough In Strike By Pennsylvania Professors

Picketers hold signs near Pennsylvania's West Chester University on Wednesday. Professors at state universities, including West Chester, came to a tentative contract agreement with the state on Friday.

Striking professors reached a tentative three-year contract Friday with the state of Pennsylvania. Faculty members had gone on strike Wednesday at 14 public colleges and universities across the state, according to Katie Meyers of NPR member station WITF.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties and Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education came to an impasse earlier this week. Faculty in the system had been working without a contract for more than a year before union members went on strike.

"I wouldn't say we got what we wanted," Kenneth Mash, APSCUF's president, tells NPR. "They were attempting to diminish quality in order to save money and we fought that back, or we fought most of it back."

The agreement includes pay increases and allows the state to reduce health care costs. The union had previously said the state wanted to cut wages for adjunct professors and have graduate students teach more classes, and those proposals were withdrawn.

The deal still must be ratified by the union and the state system's board of governors.

The strike didn't include Penn State, Temple, Pitt or Lincoln, which are not a part of PASSHE, a coalition of state schools with 107,000 students.

"We are pleased to get to this point and look forward to the conclusion of the process," said Board Chair Cynthia D. Shapira in a statement on PASSHE's website. "Once again, everyone can focus on what matters most—teaching and learning."

Both sides praised students for their patience. Social media show students at the 14 campuses took the surprise three-day break in stride.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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