Was it a Strike or Not?

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and publishes data on labor impasses that tend to occur from time to time in one (or more) of the state’s 500 school districts. Last year we noted that the 2012-13 school year was nearly the first year without a strike in nearly forty years, only to be spoiled by the Neshaminy School District, where teachers walked off the job twice.

Thus far in the 2012-13 school year there has not been a strike…unless you ask the school board of the Old Forge School District in Lackawanna County. Because they definitely feel teachers went on strike in December. However, the union representatives insist that the teachers were locked out. A strike means no unemployment compensation, a lockout means employees can collect.

Teachers went back to the classroom on January 2nd, but the issue is not resolved. When the board met to act on the 2013-14 budget (which contains a property tax increase) and union grievances the language referred to a lockout, which prompted one board member to ask that by accepting that language the board would be creating a problem for itself. The solicitor for the District stated "They can word it however they want, we are just denying it". PSBA officials don’t yet know how to categorize the issue as that decision comes from the PA Labor Relations Board.