In Old Forge the teachers’ union announced this strike last week and teachers hit the picket lines around 8 a.m. This is the second Old Forge teachers’ strike in a year’s time.
According to the statewide teachers’ union, Old Forge has had more strikes in recent years than any other district in Pennsylvania.
Teachers in Old Forge have gone four years without a contract, and union officials say they decided to strike this time after negotiations with the school board broke down again this summer. The main issue is health care and how much teachers pay towards their insurance.
“In our district, we’re the lowest paid teachers in Lackawanna County and our benefits package was something we could rely on in the past given that we weren’t getting the salaries that other districts were commanding. We realize that times are changing and health care costs are affecting everyone and that’s what we’ve offered. There are concessions in benefits. The district just doesn’t want to hear us,” said Patrick McLane, Old Forge Education Association.
According to state law, the teachers can strike long enough to push the last day of school back to June 15. And since there are no plans to negotiate again, teachers say they could be out of their classrooms for three to four weeks.
Classes were also cancelled Tuesday for dozens of students in part of Luzerne County.
Teachers in the Wyoming Area School District hit the picket line around 8 a.m.
The main sticking point there is salaries. Teachers last had a raise in 2010.
The last strike in the Wyoming Area School District was in the late 1970s.
Officials at the school district in Luzerne County say the strike could go as long as three weeks.