Fall classes begin tomorrow at Shawnee State University. This is the same day teacher contracts expire.
As negotiations over salaries and health insurance head to the 11th hour, the big question is: will the professors go on strike?
Rallying SSU professors formed a gauntlet of solidarity as negotiators headed into more contract talks.
Teachers complain that salaries at this main Ohio University are much lower than professor pay at branch campuses.
Larry Lonney explains, “We're not paid what teachers at Valley High make with comparable credentials.”
But the university says teacher pay here is more than competitive with similar sized schools throughout the region.
Shawnee State says after paying the brunt of teacher health insurance for years, skyrocketing health costs demand hikes in teacher premiums and deductibles.
Teachers say Shawnee State has never been in better financial help with millions in a rainy day fund.
Phil Blau, a young math professor with three kids and a stay at home wife says some of that surplus should go to help pay his health benefits.
Phil Blau says, “Being hit with hikes in premiums and co-pays is too much to take.”
A strike is nothing new for SSU teachers went on strike back in 1990 so the question now is, will they again?
Negotiators say there is the possibility talks could continue for a month without a new contract or a strike.
The university won't say if it has a backup plan if professors do hit the picket line.