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Editorials

Editorial: Career education and the art of not compromising

| Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, 7:33 p.m.
Forbes Road Career & Technology Center in Monroeville
Forbes Road Career & Technology Center in Monroeville

Getting everyone on the same page isn’t easy.

It’s hard to get people in one party to agree with another. It’s hard to get people at the state level to agree with the federal. It’s hard to get the House of Representatives to agree with the Senate. It’s hard to get business to agree with government.

But there is one thing that no one in that mix is really fighting. We need more people who know how to work with their hands and do a good day’s work.

At a time when economy, jobs and unemployment are key talking points at everything from a local diner to the White House, everybody seems to recognize that America and Pennsylvania have the warm bodies to fill jobs to keep companies who want to do business here doing business here.

Except for one thing. They need training to do it.

The local level knows it. Ask Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce President Chad Amond. He can talk about the future of the area if that one crucial keystone is there.

So can Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman. A federal career and technical education effort is what holds congressmen Glenn Thompson, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat, together as bipartisan partners in a cause they both understand.

That’s great. But what’s the matter in Monroeville?

The Forbes Road Career and Technology Center teachers have been working without a contract since June 30, 2017.

The two sides have locked horns for a year and now teachers are making their grievances known. A silent protest was planned for Tuesday.

But why has it gotten this far? A Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board fact-finder went over the proposals from the teachers and the FRCTC and made recommendations in July. The teachers accepted the agreement, although they won only four of the 15 points they argued. The school won seven.

Of the four remaining compromises, one was the big ticket — salaries. The fact finder said the school’s suggestion for raises was too low and the teachers’ too high and recommended something in the middle. What was recommended? Exactly what the school has budgeted, an $1,800 increase. They budgeted the same for last year and didn’t pay it.

But FRCTC rejected the state’s recommendations, and now union officials say a strike could be looming.

That means more than 700 kids from eight school districts who want to be that skilled labor force the state and the country need won’t be learning to be electricians or diesel mechanics or EMTs or contractors. They won’t be learning advanced manufacturing or computer network security.

They won’t learn anything but the art of not compromising. What a way to get everyone on the same page.

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