A Strike to Kickoff the Next School Year

"’Strike’ shall mean a concerted action in failing to report for duty, the willful absence from one’s position, the stoppage of work, slowdown or the abstinence in whole or in part from the full, faithful, and proper performance of the duties of employment for the purposes of inducing, influencing or coercing a change in the conditions or compensation or the rights, privileges, or obligations of employment…" Section 1101-A, Act 88 of 1992

The 2012-13 school year might have been the first year since the 1970s that Pennsylvania did not have a school strike-the determination on whether a dispute in the Old Forge District in northeastern PA is still unresolved as to whether it was a strike or a lockout. Right now, as it is summer break, there is no classroom instruction happening in the districts around the state. That includes the Shaler Area School District, which, come September, may be on an extended summer vacation as the teachers’ union has already given notice that no contract means no work. The school board accepted and the union rejected the fact-finder’s report that came as part of the negotiation process that began in January 2011. Shaler had a three day strike in the 1997-98 school year.

Defenders of the teachers are probably bowled over by how magnanimous the union is being–after all, Act 88 requires only a 48 hour notice of a strike and here the school board and the parents have been given more than two months notice. They would implore the members of the school board to get back to the drawing board and get things right so as to avoid a stoppage. After all, they have had two and a half years and the teachers did not follow though with a strike authorization they made in November of 2012.

But the early strike notice gives teachers an opportunity to spend some or all of their summer expressing their distaste with the contract situation. Even though it would not be a strike in the most proper terms, teachers could mill around the outside the schools from now until the beginning of September from early morning until late afternoon to keep parents and school board members aware of what things would look like should a strike occur. Since teachers do not deem it a great imposition to disrupt parents’ and students’ plans for summer vacation-or even Christmas Holidays- then perhaps the families of teachers won’t mind if the teachers launch a pre-emptive summer protest demonstration that lasts several weeks.