Republican members of the House of Representatives from Lancaster County are backing legislation to make it illegal for teachers in Pennsylvania to strike.
The Lancaster delegation of state representatives includes Reps. John Bear (R-97), Scott Boyd (R-43), Tom Creighton (R-37), Bryan Cutler (R-100), Gordon Denlinger (R-99), Dave Hickernell (R-98) and Katie True (R-41).
“Our children deserve an uninterrupted education, and this bill will make sure that will happen,” said Creighton. “There are ways to negotiate that do not involve robbing children of their education and putting parents in the unexpected situation of having to make child care arrangements.”
House Bill 1369 would bar strikes and other types of illegal lockouts, as well as the collective bargaining process, by requiring a mutually agreed settlement with absolutely no binding arbitration. All contract proposals must be made public.
“Stopping teacher strikes is the best thing we can do for the kids – it is the right thing to do to ensure that they get the best possible education,” said Cutler. “Personnel costs are the highest expenditures in a school’s budget, and this bill will help to keep the public informed of these costs. Taxpayers and parents are the ultimate stakeholders, and they have a right to know what goes on during these negotiations and the price tag of any proposed contract.”
If both sides have not agreed to a new contract by June 16 of the year in which a previous contract expires, four mandatory negotiating sessions per month would take place. In addition, negotiators from both sides would be required to explain their positions and answer taxpayer questions at a public town hall meeting.
“What is different about this bill is that it also adds the use of public meetings when none of these other tools work and negotiations stall,” said Bear. “With this bill, there will be no more misinformation or an uninformed public. Everyone will be on the same page. More importantly, our children will not miss school.”
“In this era of reform, open records and empowering taxpayers, this piece of legislation helps put the negotiations in the hands of the people,” said Boyd. “It would be another tool that taxpayers could use to monitor school spending.”
Nearly 965 teacher strikes have occurred in Pennsylvania since the Right to Strike law was enacted in 1970. Legislation banning teachers’ strikes exists in 37 other states.
“This legislation offers the transparency that taxpayers deserve,” said Hickernell. “It protects our children from damaging teacher strikes and provides a strong and accountable system that allows for dispute settlement in a timely manner.”
Denlinger noted that Pennsylvania has more teacher strikes than any other state in the nation.
“Students and their parents have every right to expect a strike-free education, and this legislation accomplishes that goal,” said Denlinger. “Our children should be the most important priority in this discussion and we need to place their education above other concerns."
According to statistics from the National Education Association and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Pennsylvania ranks ninth in the nation for the highest teacher salaries. Yet, during the 2005-06 school year, Pennsylvania had 13 teacher strikes, more than all other 49 states combined, with seven.
“Our youth must trust their educators to guide their learning and support them daily,” said True. “Teacher strikes can break that bond with students and cause disruption for the remainder of their time in school.”
The bill currently has 25 cosponsors.
The House Republican Lancaster Delegation
Contact: Scott B. Little
House Republican Public Relations