SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Scranton teachers are officially on strike.

The strike began Wednesday morning. Hundreds of teachers across the district were outside of their classrooms all day long.

Eyewitness News has the latest on the strike and the impact it has on the thousands of students in the Scranton School District.

Scranton teachers are on strike across the school district, taking the picket line from Scranton High School to the administration building and every school in between. Their message remains the same.

“A fair contract absolutely, we need a raise. We haven’t had one in five years. Program cuts have been severe for our kids,” Scranton Federation of Teachers vice president and third-grade teacher Patrick Festa said.

More than 800 teachers and supporters were on the picket line Wednesday. While on strike, the district has pulled all union employee health benefits and wages. In the meantime, nearly 10,000 students are out of the classroom.

“A strike means no work. There is a little hardball to this, they’re going to cut off our health insurance. Unfortunately we can’t assign kids, that would be work, that would be breaking the picket line,” seventh-grade teacher Matt Wazowicz said.

Eyewitness News asked teachers about the direct impact this strike has on students learning. Those questions were not directly answered.

“Absolutely they have been, but it’s really at the point now after so long and trying to negotiate that it’s time to make a stand,” Festa said.

Students are missing more than their education during the strike. With many families financially strapped from the ongoing pandemic, concerns to feed students, is felt across the district.

“We’re not prepared exactly for them being home there’s two other kids at home,” grandparent Deborah Sala said.

With students not in school during the strike, the Scranton School District is still serving meals to kids.
Deborah and her granddaughter Ellie dropped by Issac Tripp Elementary School Wednesday morning to pick up Ellie’s breakfast and lunch.

The third-grader got mini-waffles, chocolate milk, cheese pull-aparts, and fresh fruit to nourish her brain.

“For those kids who aren’t as fortunate as she and her siblings are, some of them don’t even get food at all,” Sala said.

If the strike continues into next week, additional meals will be distributed to children on Tuesday and Thursday from 11 to 1 at a number of schools.

The Scranton Federation of Teachers say they plan to strike again Thursday morning, making their way to the district administration building at 9 a.m.

Lunches will be available for students Thursday. You can find a list of where to pick them up here.