Pa. Lawmakers Seek To Limit Teacher Strikes

By Caroline Johnston, Contributing Writer 

Two bills, two parties, two goals.

Pennsylvania Democratic Representatives and Pennsylvania Republican Representatives hold divergent views of teacher strikes regarding wage and benefit negotiations. At issue here are the reoccurring teacher strikes that hit the state of Pennsylvania on average 11 times a year.

As of this month, two bills have been proposed in Harrisburg; but the General Assembly is divided amongst the two bills.

Democratic Representatives Davis (D-141), Galloway (D-140), and Bradford (D- 70), and Republican Representatives O’Neill (R-29) and Murt (R-152) signed on in support of Democratic State Rep. Santarsiero’s proposed “Back to Education Act.”  The Back to Education Act would place pressure on negotiating periods to start sooner than their current start time.

“Placing pressure on both sides,” is the goal of this bill Rep. Santarsiero reaffirmed. The Back to Education Act will allow teacher strikes, but force negotiation sessions to begin 211 days before the completion of the fiscal year.

The bill intends to mandate union and school district meetings four times during each concession period as well as require collaboration and negotiation between the groups.

In response to his support of Rep. Santarsiero’s bill, Rep. Murt explained to the Bucks County Local News, “[it] requires teachers and school districts to begin negotiating sooner than is now required by law.”

On the other hand, the Republican crafted, “Strike-Free Education Act” has support from the conservative wing of the PA House GOP.

The Strike-Free Education Act, drafted by Representatives Metcalfe (R-12) and Rock (R-90), will ban all teacher strikes during negotiation periods. This proposed GOP bill would make it illegal for teachers to strike during contract discussions, resulting in a $5,000 fine for those attempting to strike. By restricting this ability, Rep. Metcalfe and Rep. Rock feel all energy will be put on furthering education, rather than on strikes.

The bill’s co-sponsors are hoping the Republican majority in both the Senate and the House will be the necessary support for the bill’s passage.

Republican supporters justify changes through confirmation that educators will be given their pre-negotiated salary since schools are required to be open for a minimum amount of days.

While these negotiations ensue, union members are aggravated because many feel that strikes are necessary as a potential action to guarantee the wages school teachers deserve, although both bills are supported by former teachers.

Is the answer to fixing Pennsylvania’s teacher strikes opposing party support?  Even with a legislative majority, the Republicans ability to pass the Strike-Free Education Act is being questioned, partly because of their recent focus on the economy and the environment.

It is clear that Democrats and Republicans are divided by their respective parties.  However, those lawmakers that singled out their support of the Back to Education Act proved they can move beyond party lines and work toward common educationgoals.

The discussion of drastic changes to our state’s teachers strike rights will continue while the opinion of lawmakers, union members, school districts and children are taken into consideration.

June 27th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg | 4 Comments

4 thoughts on “Pa. Lawmakers Seek To Limit Teacher Strikes”

  1. Sean Ryan says:

    Kathleen must be another one of the anti-everything crowd Led By the Ciervo/Campbell/Gizzardi Calaphate. Domestic terrorist that are out to serve their own special interest to the detriment of the will of everyone else.
    These same fools promote ideals such as free trade agreements which have destroyed our manufacturing base in America. Now they want to attack unions in favor of globalist corporate profit margins. The unions don’t cause these problems, passing bills in Harrisburg that constrict when, where, and how negotiations take place causes these problems.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Bernie O’Neill’s intent is to vote in favor of self and special interests, not in the interests of his constituents. O’Neill is not shy in disclosing the fact that he will receive a pension for the years he spent as a teacher and then collect another after retiring (or being defeated!) as a state rep.

    I will be closely monitoring this as those who are bought and paid for by the teachers’ unions will be forced to reveal themselves to those who will then work arduously to remove them from office.

  3. Bike says:

    2% of Pennsylvania teachers going on strike each year IS an epidemic compared to Federal workers that are not allowed to strike – EVER!!

  4. Greg Palmer says:

    Saying there are 11 strikes a year is a bit sensationalistic when not put in context. There are ~500 school districts in PA, so that means about 2% of them are striking in an average year. And there’s no data as to how long those strikes last or how many students they affect. This isn’t an epidemic.

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