Neshaminy teachers heading back to work

Neshaminy teachers are headed back to work this week — one week into their second strike this year.  Even with a return to class in sight, some lawmakers are trying stop strikes like this from ever starting.

Representative Frank Farry is pushing a bill to prevent this from happening again, by banning teacher strikes.

“When an agreement’s not reached and certain timelines are met, it mandates that the parties be in the room four times a month, that they be exchanging offers and counter-offers,” said Rep. Farry (R-Langhorne).  “Those offers and counter-offers are then made public, which adds transparency to the process so the public will know if one side’s negotiating and the other side’s not.”

“We’d be joining the 37 other states that have banned teacher’s strikes.  It also changes the bargaining process.  The contract dispute in Neshaminy has gone on for four years.  Both sides point the finger at the other side saying they’re unwilling to negotiate,” said Farry.

Farry worries about strikes because they disrupt children’s education.  And he hears a lot about the Neshaminy contract impasse – it’s been around longer than he’s been in Harrisburg.”I am in my second term, so I’ve been in a little less than three and a half years.  The contract battles’ been going on for over four years now,” he said.

Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesman Wythe Keever said striking should be a last option.”But it should be a legal last option,” said Keever.  “The last few years that’s obviously been the case since there’s only been one strike by any teacher union in Pennsylvania since October of 2010.  They interrupt a child’s education, but only temporarily.  In Pennsylvania, all days lost due to a strike are made up under state law.”

Keever said teachers don’t want to go on strike, they would prefer to be in the classroom working.  He said the Neshaminy teachers — who are represented by a different union — are very frustrated.”Teachers take this very seriously and are willing to wait until it’s literally the last option,” said Keever. “Teachers don’t want to go on strike.  They would prefer to be in the classroom working, but they do feel that strikes are sometimes necessary.”The Neshaminy teachers also hit the picket lines in January.

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