Wyoming Area Teachers Strike, Walk Picket Line

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EXETER -- For the first time in almost 40 years, a strike is underway in the Wyoming Area School District in Luzerne County.

This should be the second week of school in Wyoming Area, but instead students are out for as long as three weeks.

The teachers – about 160 total – started picketing Tuesday and say they want a raise.

In these early days of September you'll find more teachers walking along the sidewalks than the hallways of the Wyoming Area School District.

A teachers strike over salary is now officially underway; a decision union president Melissa Dolman says was not easy.

"The last thing that we want is to not be in the classroom. It's what we love to do. That's why we're teachers, and it is frustrating."

After months of negotiating, talks broke down last week.

Dolman says teachers reached agreements with the Wyoming Area district on healthcare and retirement costs. But after three years without a raise, the teachers were hoping for salary hikes.

They say they haven't heard from the district since last week about future meetings.

Parents such as Tiffany Clark are frustrated as they now have to watch their children who would normally be in school.  She says she feels little sympathy for teachers.

"The economy and stuff like that, everybody would like a raise. I think there's a lot of people that worked a couple years without raises. It's just the way of life."

During their eight hours of picketing teachers did get some support.

"I kind of have mixed feelings. I understand where the teachers are coming from, and I also want to see my child in school," said Jackie Overman of West Pittston.

But between daycare for parents and the dog days of summer now ending, it's clear that parents and kids just want school to be in session.

"I was kind of excited and then I kind of wasn't excited because then we have to make up all the days at Christmastime. We're going to have to go into school for a longer time," said seventh grader Nathan Victor.

The union president says this strike could continue for up to three weeks.

Teachers are also on strike in the Old Forge School District in Lackawanna County.