Duquesne Education Association announces strike to begin Monday
Classes in Duquesne will resume on Monday despite Duquesne Education Association's intended strike.
Teachers and other staff announced their intent to strike on Friday, and the district's administration immediately announced that the two remaining days of the 2013-14 academic year will continue as planned.
“In an effort to minimize disruption to students and their families so late in the school year, the Duquesne City School District will be open and classes will be held as scheduled,” the district announced in a press release. “Students will be supervised by certified school administrators and personnel.”
Food service will continue as scheduled. The sixth-grade promotion ceremony, originally planned for Monday, has been postponed to a date and time that has yet to be determined.
Middle and high school students attending West Mifflin Area and East Allegheny schools are not affected by the strike. Transportation for all students with out-of-district placement will continue as scheduled.
The education association and Duquesne administrators have not met in a formal negotiating session since a fact-finding report was issued regarding collective bargaining issues, the district's court-appointed receiver Paul B. Long said.
“We knew that a strike was a possibility, and we are still hoping that it does not occur,” Long said, noting the district administration made an appropriate decision in proceeding with classes on Monday and Tuesday. “I think it's the right thing to do to not disrupt the lives of our students and their families.”
The strike is in response to a collective bargaining stalemate in a district where teachers have been working without a contract for two school years. The issue was subject to a third-party fact-finding report, which was issued in March. The education association approved the findings, and Long rejected them based on the district's financial and educational recovery status.
Pennsylvania State Education Association UniServ representative Dan Carey, who has been working with Duquesne staff members through two years of collective bargaining, said Friday was the deadline to announce any planned strike in an attempt to move the negotiating process to arbitration. With Duquesne Education Association exhausting its fact-finding options under Act 88 collective bargaining legislation, the remaining third-party resolution mechanism in reaching a contract would be arbitration.
“There are two ways to get to arbitration,” Carey explained. “One is that two parties can agree to take part in it, and the other is if the association called a work stoppage that delays the school year past June 15.”
Because the district is asking students to report for class regardless of the teacher strike, the work stoppage will not impact the school calendar. Therefore, it will have no impact on the request for arbitration.
A meeting between the education association and district officials is planned for Monday afternoon.
“I suspect the cordiality of the meeting will be somewhat reduced,” Carey said. He noted that teachers are willing to negotiate with the district and may call off the strike before their last professional development day of 2013-14.
With a work stoppage being the only way to reach arbitration if the district is not willing to proceed, Carey said, Duquesne Education Association may strike again in the fall.
“It's not something we would enter into lightly,” Carey said. “It's not something we want to do at all. We would much rather handle this in a more civilized manner, but these are the options we have under Act 88.”
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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