Allegheny County: National Capital for Teacher Strikes?

As we have noted on several occasions, Pennsylvania leads the nation in teacher strikes and has done so for at least a decade accounting for over half of all such strikes in the country. One would think that in a recessionary environment, the number of strikes would fall dramatically or cease altogether. And they appear to have done so everywhere but in Allegheny County.

Two strikes this school year have already occurred, recently in Allegheny Valley and currently in Bethel Park. Moon district teachers have authorized a strike and appear on the verge of walking out. Teachers and their union heads have apparently decided that it is better to take the strikes in the fall rather than waiting until spring. Because of the 180 day instruction rule, the strikes typically cannot last as long once the holidays and spring break days are utilized. So, to inflict the longest possible torment on the community, it is far better for the unions to strike before Thanksgiving and certainly before Christmas.

But not to worry, no athletic events will be cancelled during the strike, revealing an ultimate truth. Parents and the community will put up with disruption of their lives and student education but they will not tolerate the cancellation of football games or band practice. Not even the teacher unions with all their political clout will take on the outrage that would come at them if a football game had to be forfeited.

Still, the greater point to be made here is the notion that since no other strikes have been launched this school year in Pennsylvania and since Pennsylvania is the strike capital of the nation, it is reasonable to conclude that Allegheny County is now the epicenter of teacher strikes in the U.S. and, excluding France and Greece, the world.

How wonderful to be the best at something.

Teachers Thumb Their Noses at Taxpayers

Contract negotiations between the Penn Hills School Board and district teachers have come to a halt. In light of the recession, the School Board is asking the teachers to take a pay freeze and increase contributions toward health care-proposals being flatly rejected by the union. This is yet another instance of a public sector union thumbing their noses at taxpayers who simply cannot afford the generous pay and benefits teachers are accustomed to receiving.

Penn Hills’ teachers have expressed doubts regarding financial problems the District is facing. As is often the case with public sector unions, they see the taxpayers as a never ending source of money and would support tax increases to cover their demands. Of course teachers see themselves as providing a vital service to the community and worth ever penny. While the Penn Hills teachers have not yet suggested a strike, it is likely they would stage a walkout to pressure the School Board to abandon its call for a pay freezes.

The District is asking the teachers’ union to agree to these demands for a two-year contract, after which, assuming the economy has rebounded, pay raises could resume. The teachers have counter proposed an extension of the current contract, with pay raises intact, or a new five-year deal with a six percent increase in salary

How is it that teachers have come to believe they are exempt from the economic realities faced by everyone else? At a time when employment levels in the region have fallen to ten year ago levels and incomes are down, teachers ought to be willing to offer some relief to District taxpayers, especially since District administrators have already agreed to the Board’s request to forego pay increases in the current school year.

And that pretty well sums up the problem with public sector unions in general. They believe their power, derived from misguided state law, bestows upon them privileges and standing far beyond those enjoyed by average hard working taxpayers.