Campbell: No sign of strike at LM yet
MANDATA - A strike threatened by the teacher's union at Line Mountain School District may still be avoided.
Addressing the audience at Tuesday's board of director's meeting, Superintendent David M. Campbell said he has not yet received official notification of a strike.
"If I would get the notification to strike, within the hour the ALERT NOW call will go out of the teacher's strike," said Campbell.
Class at Line Mountain is scheduled to resume Sept. 2.
Extracurricular activities, including sports, are slated to continue regardless of the strike.
Campbell said the union is required to give 48 hours notice before going on strike per Act 88, a set of rules established by the state in 1992 regarding teacher union strikes.
Act 88 also limits the number of days a teacher's union can strike and prevents the district from hiring temporary workers.
Campbell said the Pennsylvania Department of Education will determine the number of days the teacher's union can strike depending on which days earmarked for non-class activities like snow makeup and professional development can be used to make up missed class days.
He estimates the maximum of strike days possible at 21 days, and said that some holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, are forbidden from being used class days.
In the case of the first strike, the union must allow for the completion of at least 180 days of class by June 15.
If a first strike does occur, when the union uses all of their strike days both parties are required to enter into arbitration before a second strike can occur.
Arbitration usually takes at least 6 months, said Campbell, so a second strike wouldn't occur until at the end of the spring semester, at the earliest.
The second strike would push back the deadline for the teachers and students to complete 180 class days by June 30, but even with the extension the school's calendar only allows for 11 days for the strike, said Campbell.
Campbell, who is not directly impacted by the outcome of the resolution, is concerned about the effect a strike will have on students.
"The only people that are going to suffer are the 1,288 students," said Campbell.
Board members were critical of the behavior exhibited by Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the union representing the teachers at Line Mountain, in the negotiation meetings.
Director Lamont Masser said the board of school insisted on a face-to-face meeting with the union Aug. 18 after having multiple offers rejected.
"They would not give us anything specific (to change)," said Masser. "They told us it was over and they walked out."
PSEA representative Mark McDade denied the union left without attempting negotiations.
"We were there for several hours and the school board failed to engage in good-faith bargaining," said McDade.
McDade said the biggest sticking point in the negotiations has been the board's "regressive proposals."
"The main area where they demonstrate regression is in the area of salary," said McDade.
McDade refused to give specific numbers on the board's salary proposals.
"I don't want to get into specifics because that really should not be a public consumption," said McDade. "The Sunshine Act clearly says collective bargaining agreements are done in private."
Troy Laudenslager, board president, said he requested to have a meeting with only the Line Mountain teachers and the school board to work out the issues, but McDade refused to allow that to happen.
PSEA's reluctance to negotiate has led Laudenslager to believe they do not truly seek an end to the contract troubles.
"I think there's another plan to get everyone to strike at once to provide some kind of relevance again," said Laudenslager. "The common denominator is the union representatives, not the school districts."