10/28/08

Anti-teacher strike bill DOA

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: "Anti-strike resolution going nowhere" • "The 28 labor-states"

Keystone State #1 in the nation for teacher strikes

Parents and teachers recently listened to state Rep. Dave Steil describe the workings of a bill to end teacher strikes.

Strike-Free Education Act House Bill 1369, if passed by the state Legislature, would make strikes illegal and add several mediation steps to the bargaining process between teachers unions and school districts. If those steps still result in a stalemate, the new law ultimately would require four negotiating sessions a month until an agreement is reached. It would make each step of the process transparent to the public.

Steil, R-31, plans to retire shortly. He urged listeners to ask their state representatives to support the bill.

“It happens when a mass of people get behind it and say, "We want this done,' ” he said.

The meeting last week at the Yardley Community Center and attended by about 35 people who wanted to know more about the legislation, was organized by local teacher strikes opponent Simon Campbell of Lower Makefield.

Jill Basile, the parent of a child in the Souderton School District, also spoke at the meeting.

The Souderton district was shut down recently for 13 school days during a strike. Basile's anger propelled her into action, she said. She made fliers, called the local media and is meeting with local politicians to garner more support for strike-free legislation.

Lower Makefield resident Rafe Schach thought it would be good for Pennsylvania to study the contract negotiation practices of the 37 states that already make teacher strikes illegal. Shach's children go to private school but he is interested in ending strikes, he said.

Campbell's concern with ending strikes began after Pennsbury School District teachers went on strike for 21 days during a contract dispute in 2005. He organized StopTeacherStrikes.com, a group of parents and teachers who support the strike-free bill.

“A private organization should not have the right to shut down a public learning facility,” said Campbell at the meeting.

Pennsbury teachers union vice president Michelle Marcinkus attended the first half-hour of the meeting. She said she wanted to see how many interested people would show up.

Steil represents Lower Makefield, Yardley, Newtown Borough, Newtown Township and District 2 of Upper Makefield.

(phillyburbs.com)

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