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Pine-Richland teachers give authority to call strike

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
 

The Pine-Richland Education Association voted to authorize a strike last week as the next step in ongoing contract negotiations.

The teachers union will continue to negotiate with the Pine-Richland School Board, but the strike- authorization vote allows teachers to call a strike if necessary under the state's Act 88.

Contract negotiations have been ongoing for more than two years.

“No one wants a strike,” PREA President Trent Matteson said in a statement. “However, in making this decision, the membership of the PREA has clearly indicated to the board that we will take any and all steps available to us under Pennsylvania law in order to reach a contract settlement that treats all members of our union fairly and equitably.”

The issues that remain are a district-proposed pay freeze for teachers at the top of the salary schedule and an increase in how much teachers contribute out-of-pocket for health insurance and board opposition to an early-retirement incentive proposed by the union, which would be “a cost savings to the district and would save the taxpayers' resources,” said Fritz Fekete, a Pennsylvania State Education Association field program communications consultant for the union.

“Teachers in Pine-Richland are very concerned that through the life of the contract they will lose competitiveness with other school districts in the North Hills area,” Fekete said. “We don't want to lose ground in terms of the best and the brightest.”

The teachers' contract expired at the end of June 2012, and they have been working under the terms of the old contract since then. The union represents about 335 teachers.

Rachel Farkas is a staff reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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