For many years, Pennsylvania has led the country with the greatest number of teacher strikes. These strikes are often called during or because of monopoly bargaining contracts, which is the source of all compulsory unionism. Teacher union officials in the Dallas Township are notorious for calling strikes. Eileen Godin shares the story of one mother’s aggravation with teacher strikes and the monopoly bargaining that engenders them in the Times-Leader. The frustrated parent even questions the “need” for teacher unions.
Being a parent of Dallas School District students has not been easy, according to a Back Mountain mother of three.
For the past two school years, families have lived under a constant threat of strikes and tried to explain to their children how adults cannot seem to reach an agreement, the mother said. The teachers’ contract remains unresolved as a new school year edges closer and now the Luzerne County courts are involved.
“We are trying to shape our children’s minds to be independent thinkers,” she said. “It is hard for a child to understand how two groups of grown-ups can’t agree. What example are we setting?”
The mother, whose asked that her name not be used, opened up about the stress the on and off again strikes and stalled negotiations have on her family.
“Taking three years to work something out is unacceptable,” she said. “In the business world, that kind of behavior is unacceptable.”
The Dallas School Board and the Dallas Education Association started negotiating a new contract in 2014. The teachers’ contract expired in August 2015. Three years later, negotiations remain stalled on salary, healthcare contribution and early retirement.
Teachers went on a 22-day strike in November 2016, a seven-day strike in September 2017 and a one-day strike on June 19.
The union’s exercise of its right to strike has driven a wedge in what was once a close community, the mother said. District parents were close and always willing to volunteer to help with programs, she said.
“People are bitter,” she said. “They are spending extra on childcare (as a result of strikes) which has a trickle-down effect. . .”
At one point in the 2016-17 school year, the teachers were talking with students about the contract issue, specifically how low their wages are compared to other districts, the mother said.
She held out hope that court-ordered negotiations by Luzerne County Judge William H. Amesbury would result in a resolution.
But that was not the case.
“It is time to end this. It should never have reached this point,” the mother said.
Teachers have a tough job, she said, adding they have a lot of benefits built into their contract such as tenure.
“They need to contribute to their own health care,” she said.
The mother even questioned the need for school unions.
“I have friends who are teachers in different states without unions, and they are very happy with their employment,” she said, adding maybe teachers would be more willing to contribute to their health care if they did not have to pay union fees.