Scranton Teachers Could Strike Monday

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Teachers in one of the largest school districts in our area are talking about going on strike Monday if negotiations with the district Friday are not successful.

Come Monday, teachers at 17 schools in the Scranton School District could be walking the picket lines said Rosemary Boland, president of the Scranton Federation of Teachers.

Boland said teachers in the district have been negotiating for more than a year and working without a contract since September.

If negotiations with the district do not go well Friday morning, about 900 teachers in the union will strike.

“We expect our teachers to be allowed the dignity they deserved with a fair and equitable contract,” said Rosemary Boland.

She said the Scranton teachers’ union is the only one in northeastern Pennsylvania that pays toward health care. That is a sticking point, as are salaries.

“We have salaries where, we had 74 of our people retire in June. That saved the Scranton School District, over current salaries, over $10 million. That’s a lot of money. That $10 million  would fund our contract,” Boland added.

Those waiting to pick up their students at John Adams Elementary said the threat of a strike is all too common.

“I`ve heard it before and a couple years ago they went on strike and they settled it at the last minute. It was all about salary and stuff like that, so it just seems like a nuisance,” said parent John Layton of Scranton.

“You know, I’m sure they have legitimate reasons. They deserve a fair pay and fair benefits, yet I think we have to think of the children,” said Mary Ellen Mrozek, who was picking up her grandchildren. “They should be able to work these things out and not have the children affected.”

“There is no Scranton School District if there are no teachers in those classrooms. Our students need us in the classrooms. We don’t need all these administrators in our classrooms. They can’t do our job,” added Boland.

Scranton Superintendent Bill King said of the negotiations, “There’s certainly challenges, but we’re doing everything we can to come to an agreement that’s reasonable for teachers and responsible for the taxpayers.”

The last strike by teachers in the Scranton School District was in the 1998-1999 school year and lasted three days, according to Boland.

The union is required to give 48 hours notice before teachers strike.

If they do walk the picket lines Monday, Boland said the strike will last until the courts or the department of education force teachers back in the classrooms.