SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — In just one week hundreds of teachers in the Scranton School District are planning to go on strike.
Teachers there have been working without a contract for four years. Negotiations started back in 2016.
Scranton Federation of Teachers have recently protested during contract negotiations between the district and the union.
The union notified the district Tuesday night of the strike after a collective bargaining meeting. Students will be out of the classroom starting Wednesday, November 3.
“Building administrators and teachers did a wonderful job getting them back. But now is the time where we are in a sweet spot and we’re being disrupted,” said Vivian Williams, parent.
Williams has three children in the district.
According to the union president. Negotiations stopped over healthcare.
“The SFT is not comfortable with the reference base pricing model and we did offer an alternative proposal staying with the Highmark plan and it was not considered,” said Katie Gilmartin, Scranton School Board president.
Higher wages were also on the bargaining table.
Eyewitness News compared surrounding districts and found Scranton to be 10,000 dollars below the annual payroll average of Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre school districts. Three of the largest in the region.
In the final offer, teachers in “step,” or year 2-7, would see an $8,900 increase over the course of the new contract ending September 2023.
That includes an initial $7,100 jump to more than $47,000 a school year. If the contract is approved.
A payroll increase. That has been allocated in Monday night’s approved proposed 2022 budget.
“The dollars are in there and when an agreement is reached and those savings are identified. We’ll be able to move those funds,” said Gilmartin.
President of the Scranton Federation of Teachers, Rosemary Boland says “…Strikes are always the last resort. We held off for many months, hoping, in vain, we could agree on conditions that are good for kids and provide decency, fairness, respect and trust for our educators.”
According to a press release from the federation, the strike will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, November 3rd.
“We’ve reached the end of the line and our patience with the Scranton School District. The district has refused to address our concerns about the slash-and-burn budget cuts that are significantly affecting the quality of education. Strikes are always the last resort. We held off for many months, hoping, in vain, we could agree on conditions that are good for kids and provide decency, fairness, respect and trust for our educators,” Federation president Rosemary Boland said in the release.
113 teachers have left the scranton school district in the past two years according to the teachers union.
The release states that teachers have not received a raise in four years and that the union has been working on a contract that expired in 2017.
You can read the entire statement from the federation on the federation’s Facebook page.
The Scranton School District issued a statement in response that reads in part: “The Scranton School Board and District Administration are outraged by the strike action announced today by the Scranton Federation of Teachers (SFT). We are gravely concerned about its impact on students, and their families, only now readjusting to normal school life after so many months out of the classroom due to the pandemic.”