OLD FORGE — Old Forge School District should have been bustling with students finishing up classes before taking a holiday break. Instead, teachers walked the picket lines Thursday, demanding a contract and answers to many of their growing concerns.
Teachers in Old Forge said they’ve been working without one for two years, and now Union President Patrick McLane said they’ve reached the breaking point.
“Salaries and benefits, are the big issues, but definitely things we can work with if they would just sit down with us,” said Patrick McLane.
But the fight for better wages and better benefits in Old Forge has left students with an early holiday break.
Dee Barris’s grandchild goes to the high school, but she said she supports the teacher’s move to strike.
“They pay their dues to the Union and they have a right to do what they need to do to get what they want, to get what they need. I`m sure the teachers are very nice teachers and I`m sure they`re not asking for any more than they really deserve,” said grandparent Dee Barris.
Frank Scavo was the School Board President during the last Old Forge teacher’s strike that lasted four years. He said their decision to strike again couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“There should not be labor unrest when we have economic turmoil in these United States, teachers are well taken care of, they haven`t experienced any cut backs, there`s no reduction in pay or healthcare benefits so, I don`t think this is the right example to set for our children,” said Frank Scavo.
He said the issues that forced these educators to picket, are some of the same ones he saw years ago and says ultimately this strike hurts students the most.
“It`s really disruptive for the entire year, seniors, graduating class, younger middle school, it`s just not what should happen,” said Scavo.
The Teachers Union said the school board’s decision last night to implement its’ last contract offer actually makes this strike officially a ‘lock-out’, meanwhile the district is calling it a strike.
District officials said there aren’t any plans for these two parties to meet at the bargaining table any time soon.