Until the Penns Manor School District and the Penns Manor Education Association can agree on a fair contract – Penns Manor School District teachers say they will be going on strike.
We spoke to the Pennsylvania State Education Association Region Advocacy Coordinator who says it’s been eight months since the most recent Penns Manor School District contract expired and the district continues to push for a new contract that the P.S.E.A says would kick some spouses off healthcare plans and educators are not having that.
“Look, I’ll be honest with you strikes are not very common in this area, in this community,” says Annie Briscoe, the P.S.E.A Region Advocacy Coordinator.
Briscoe says until a fair contract can be reached, educators from the Penns Manor School District will be going on strike Monday.
“So, our teachers deserve a fair contract first and foremost, Not just for our teachers, but for our school district community and our students”.
“The district is continuing to push a proposal that would kick our family members off of our healthcare plans starting with our spouses and that’s just not acceptable to our members”.
The district’s Negotiations Committee Chairperson said the new contract would only remove spouses who are employed by other school districts.
The Penns Manor Education Association says they’ve been negotiating with the district over the new contract since November.
“Our teachers have agreed to make concessions from our initial proposals that would actually mean our teachers have agreed to pay more toward their healthcare plans than what their currently paying, which teachers already contribute towards, But the districts proposals have been pretty consistent in trying to exclude spousal coverage.”
Briscoe adds the Penns Manor Education Association has even made it clear that they would meet as often as it takes, even on weekends to get a fair settlement with the district, but “Unfortunately we have not heard back yet from the district as far as their willingness to meet with us.”
A notice on the school district’s website says, “Despite the board’s efforts to navigate the issues in an amicable way, PMEA unfortunately rejected the board’s request at this meeting to participate in fact finding – a process for parties to resolve remaining issues by utilizing an impartial third party.”
A question and answer document posted by the district says the district is working with the Department of Education to find out how long the strike can continue and they hope extracurricular activities can continue and the school’s facilities will remain available for those events.
Briscoe mentions how Penns Manor students must complete 180 instructional days by June 15th and because of the strike – the school year could be extended into the summertime.
We reached out to other Penns Manor school officials multiple times Thursday for comment but have yet to hear back.