Strike at Forbes Road vo-tech would affect students at 8 school districts

September 7, 2018

A teachers strike at one school could affect students at eight other school districts.

Teachers at the Forbes Road Career and Technology Center are poised to start a second school year without a current labor agreement and are considering a strike, a union representative said.

The last three-year contract for the Monroeville vo-tech school’s 32 teachers expired on June 30, 2017, said Matt Edgell, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

Forbes Road serves more than 700 students from eight districts: Allegheny Valley, East Allegheny, Gateway, Highlands, Penn Hills, Plum, Riverview, and Woodland Hills. High school students from those districts can attend Forbes Road on a half-day or full-day basis.

It is overseen by a joint operating committee comprised of school board members from the member districts.

Edgell said a vote to authorize a strike is being considered. He said more will be known after he meets with union members Aug. 23, which also is the first day of school for students there.

Highlands has 65 students enrolled at Forbes Road, district spokeswoman Jennifer Goldberg said.

“The district is working on a plan for Forbes students should there be a work stoppage,” she said.

The union membership recently voted overwhelmingly to accept the terms of a fact finder’s determination.

The fact finder had recommended a four-year agreement effective until June 30, 2021.

“We felt it was a fair report with necessary compromises that allow us to continue our major task, which is educating children,” said George Karnbauer, president of the Forbes Road CTC Education Association.

The school’s joint operating committee did not vote on it, which, under state law, is the same as rejecting it.

A representative of the school could not immediately be reached for comment.

“We don’t understand why the school board would not even vote on it,” Karnbauer said. “It was an unbiased, third party assessment of the situation.”

Edgell said no talks were scheduled as of Friday, but may be set after meetings Aug. 23.

“The joint operating committee has cancelled numerous meetings since bargaining started in January of 2017,” Edgell said.

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