PA’s Strike Picture

PA’s Strike Picture

We know that Pennsylvania is the perennial leader in teacher strikes. It outpaces nearby states that have more school districts and permit teacher strikes. We also know that Pennsylvania prohibits certain types of employees from going on strikes-police officers, firefighters, prison guards, personnel necessary for the functioning of courts, and mental health workers.

But how many public sector strikes have there been in the Commonwealth in recent years? Data from the state’s Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Mediation tracked the number of strikes back to January 1, 2006 and found that there were 62 public sector strikes since that date. That’s a rate of roughly one strike per month over the time frame.

Thirty seven (60%) of these were teacher strikes; another 10 (16%) were school support staff strikes; add in the additional 6 (10%) carried out by vocational-technical school instructors and staff and secondary education personnel and it is plain to see that nearly every public sector strike in PA in the last five years was tied to education.

So what’s left over? Five (8%) strikes were transit related, with SEPTA’s 2009 strike accounting for four of these. The remaining four strikes (6%) are classified as "other" with two of those related to county-level employees.

With other states, including mid-western neighbors, making changes to collective bargaining and strike powers, will Pennsylvania join the crowd or remain out of step with its public sector framework?