EXETER, Pa. – Students in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Area School District must feel like their summer vacation’s never going to end.
Students had just three days of classes in August before their teachers’ union – the Wyoming Area Education Association – decided to go on strike Sept. 3. The strike is now in its third week, and is expected to last until the legal cutoff date at the end of the month.
WAEA members have been working under the terms of a contract that was supposed to expire on Aug. 31, 2010. But that contract remains in effect, as the union and district have been unable to agree to a new deal. The two sides have reportedly been trying to hammer out a new labor agreement “for six or seven years,” well before the current contract “expired,” reports CitizensVoice.com.
The two sides are at odds over salary increases and health insurance premiums.
According to CitizensVoice.com, Wyoming Area school board members don’t seem inclined to give into the union’s financial demands just to get the 170 striking teachers back in the classroom.
As disgusting as it is to see a group of so-called professional educators walk out on their students over a pay dispute, the real villains in this story are the weak-kneed lawmakers in Harrisburg who refuse to pass legislation outlawing teacher strikes.
Labor unions are selfish, obnoxious entities that only care about their members’ financial interests, no matter what the cost to taxpayers or school children. It’s easy to dislike Big Labor, but at least t labor leaders stand up for what they believe in.
Pennsylvania’s legislators, on the other hand, have foolishly tried to take a “middle of the road” approach to teacher strikes. They’ve created a schizophrenic set of rules that allow teacher unions to strike up to two times a school year, but only so long as the walkouts don’t cause the 180-day school year to extend beyond a certain point in June.
How ridiculous. They’ve actually created conditions that encourage teacher strikes.
Until voters demand that their lawmakers quit trying to be both pro-labor and pro-student, Pennsylvania will continue to be known as the nation’s “teachers strike capital.”
And strikes like the one in the Wyoming Area School District will become more common, and Pennsylvania’s students will fall further and further behind.