The strike goes on, no agreement reached in Scranton Federation of Teachers’ strike

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Scranton School District (SSD) and the teachers union have not come to an agreement on a contract in the final hours. Which means the strike will go on.

A state mediator is still in town even after the district and union came to no agreement on Monday or Tuesday.

While negotiations are still on the table, the Scranton Federation of Teachers spent Tuesday preparing signs for the picket line.

“We will be at our individual schools to strike, to protest the unfair, you know working conditions and treatment of the teachers within this district,” said Tricia Natale, special education teacher.

Natale is one of 800 teachers and paraprofessionals going on strike. The union is preparing messages for the public and district to see and read.

“I’m praying that it comes to a resolution. You know, we need to get back in the schools,” said
Natale.

In the meantime, students and teachers will be out of the classroom.

While on the picket line the district has pulled all union employee health benefits and wages.

It’s citing Act 195— where a public employee is not entitled to compensation during a strike.

“We do have case law that supports the notion that benefits are considered compensation and therefore can not be provided during a strike,” said Katie Gilmartin, Scranton School Board president.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor Katie Gilmartin says union members have access to COBRA, a program to continue health insurance when it’s lost.

“I would certainly encourage them to reach out to the union office and also seek support from our human resource director,” said Gilmartin.

“They allowed their solicitor with a legal opinion to say ‘don’t pay teachers their health care benefits, Rather let them die,'” said Rosemary Boland, president of Scranton Federation of Teachers.

Boland says negotiations have stalled over health care.

The district switched its offer to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield— Something the union wants Boland says.

However, the union is not for the district’s $2,000 deductible offer.

“I think in this moment they should of said hey lets sit down with that union and lets get this thing done. That’s not what they did,” said Boland.

Teachers plan to start striking at 7 Wednesday morning until 9 a.m. at their individual schools. Then meet for a larger protest at the administration building.

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