Line Mtn. rep: Teachers will strike
MANDATA - Area children will start back to school over the next two weeks - except those who attend Line Mountain.
Teachers and board members were unable to agree on a contract during a negotiation meeting Monday, and according to Mark McDade, representative of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, district teachers will strike.
Ben Pratt, attorney for Line Mountain, said the two sides met to discuss a financial proposal offered by the district, but the association refused to provide salary schedules requested by the board. When the board asked for the schedule Monday, the teachers got up and left the table, he said.
McDade said Monday the requested schedule is a moot point because the association's salary proposal, on which a salary schedule is based, had already been rejected by the school board.
"If the salary proposal is not acceptable, what's the point of doing a schedule?" he asked.
The school board's most recent proposal offers less compensation than a proposal the association has already rejected, McDade said.
"They have proposed regressive proposals, and we have requested they revise their proposal and they will not do it. They shift the burden onto us," McDade said.
When asked if the teachers plan to strike, Pratt said he didn't know.
"That's up to them. The board wanted to stay and talk more and they got up and left," he said.
McDade said the teachers definitely plan to strike.
"(The school board) has done nothing on their part to move the negotiation to the middle. They keep moving backwards and expect us to follow them," he said.
McDade said the teachers will strike until the Pennsylvania Department of Education determines they must go back to work.
Teachers have been discussing a strike since last school year. A meeting held in April was called "professional and productive" by both sides of the discussion. However, in May, McDade said a strike was imminent, after a negotiation session ended without a contract.
Another bargaining session ended abruptly July 28, and the union's chief negotiator said then a strike appeared inevitable. Discussion of a salary schedule included in the board's latest proposal brought that 3-hour meeting to a sudden halt.
Working to the rule
Line Mountain teachers have been working on an expired contract since June 2012. The union has previously threatened to strike and will continue "working to the rule," a position the union adopted Sept. 30, meaning teachers work during the contracted 7 1/2 hours and nothing more.
Teachers received an annual 3-percent raise in the expired pact.
About 100 teachers picketed a board meeting in March, and half returned to a second meeting that month to stand together in silence during the meeting.
A first-year teacher at Line Mountain makes a minimum of $32,838, and a teacher in his or her 17th year can make $63,582, plus receive a pension. Based on 2011-12 figures, Line Mountain teachers were paid an average of $48,259.
The state average for a classroom teacher in 2011-12 was $62,019, according to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Teachers received an annual 3-percent raise in its last pact with the school board that ended in June 2011. The contract was extended for the 2011-12 school year with salaries frozen and tuition reimbrusement denied, with some exceptions.