New Teacher Contract No Closer, Union Says
In their second year working under an expired contract, Scranton teachers remain no closer to a new agreement, union leadership said Thursday.
During negotiations Wednesday, the district’s team presented an offer that mimicked a proposal from January, said Rosemary Boland, president of the Scranton Federation of Teachers. She called the offer regressive because the district did not present financial documentation for several contract issues.
“I don’t care if Jesus said it. You need to substantiate what you said on paper,” Boland said. “This has become an attack on the Scranton Federation of Teachers as a labor union.”
The union plans to hold a rally Friday, Oct. 5, at 3 p.m. outside the Administration Building, 425 N. Washington Ave. A large turnout from teachers also is expected at Monday’s school board meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. in the auditorium of West Scranton High School, 1201 Luzerne St.
Monday’s meeting will be the first opportunity for the board to hear public comment since a statewide grand
jury found former fleet manager Daniel Sansky routinely overbilled the school district and charged the district for work on the personal vehicles of at least a dozen employees or their family members. Sansky faces seven felony counts, including corrupt organizations, dealing in unlawful proceeds, criminal conspiracy and theft by deception. His preliminary hearing was continued this week and now is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Dec. 18.
“We’re not responsible for the corruption. If we saw it we would have come forward,” Boland said. “It’s a disgrace.”
The approximately 700 teachers have worked under the expired agreement since September 2017, and last year authorized union leaders to call a strike if deemed necessary. Boland said Thursday that she has no immediate plan to call a strike.
The offer presented to teachers this week, outlined in a video posted online by the union and distributed to its members, includes a two-year wage freeze, no changes to health care, the elimination of extra pay for class coverage when teachers are pulled from their planning periods and requiring secondary teachers to teach six periods a day instead of five.
The financially struggling district laid off 16 teachers last month, eliminating all librarian positions and reducing students’ exposure to classes such as art, music and physical education. District officials previously said they cannot afford proposals from the union.
The union continues to ask for the district to adopt recommendations made by the state fact finder in August 2017. Teachers approved the report while the board rejected it. The report recommended keeping all current contract language and giving teachers regular step raises over the next two years without additional cost-of-living adjustments. Teachers typically advance a step each year until the top step of 16, and those steps usually increase each year.
The union also continues to dispute health care costs and what the district has used to budget.
“If there is ever a time to rally together and stand in support and solidarity to get a contract, it is now the time to do it,” Patrick Festa, a McNichols Plaza teacher and union second vice president, said in the union video. “We deserve respect and a fair and equitable contract.”
Efforts to reach John Minora, district solicitor, were unsuccessful Thursday.
Contact the writer:
@hofiushallTT on Twitter