Ringgold teachers clear way for walkout
Working without a contract since the school year began, the Ringgold Education Association unanimously passed a strike authorization vote Monday.
Alisa M. Compeau, Pennsylvania State Education representative, confirmed the vote late Monday.
Compeau is a union representative for the Ringgold Education Association. Employed by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, she helps local education units negotiate contracts.
Compeau said the sides have been negotiating since January 2013.
The Ringgold Education Association represents 217 teachers, nurses and guidance counselors. It has been working under the terms of the old pact.
The strike vote was taken because “little progress” has been made toward “a fair and equitable contract,” Compeau said.
“This vote means that the general membership has given its negotiating team the authority to call for a strike in the event that a contract cannot be reached,” Compeau said.
“There has been no discussion at this time as to if and when an actual strike may become necessary.”
She said the association will continue to bargain in good faith with the district in hopes that a fair contract can be reached without a strike.
“The number one priority of the association members is the education of the students in the district,” Compeau said.
Reached late Monday, Bill Stein, the school board's chief negotiator, said he was not aware the strike authorization vote had occurred.
“We're still proceeding with the approach that we'll work this out in negotiation,” Stein said.
“We both agreed not to talk about where we are in this, and I'll honor a stand we've taken not to negotiate in press.”
Stein said the sides have “passed back and forth a few proposals.”
He said contract talks have been complicated by Gov. Tom Corbett's budget proposal and rising pension contributions.
“We're hopeful at the end of the day that we'll end up with a negotiated contract,” Stein said.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.