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Baldwin-Whitehall teachers to strike Tuesday

Tony LaRussa
| Saturday, Feb. 17, 2007

Teachers in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, who have been working under the terms of a contract that expired June 30, announced Friday they will go on strike Tuesday.

Kevin Fischer, president of the Baldwin-Whitehall school board, said administrators are planning to teach half-day classes for seniors to reduce the effects the strike could have on graduation.

A teachers union spokesman said the strike call was prompted after the district's negotiator, attorney Bruce Campbell, informed the union yesterday that March 8 was the first available date he could return to the bargaining table.

"The school board is not serious about negotiations," said Butch Santicola, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association. The state association is affiliated with the Baldwin-Whitehall Education Association, which represents the district's 202 teachers.

"Something is wrong. It's disrespectful of everyone attempting to reach an agreement, and demonstrates a total lack of sincerity and interest on the part of the board," Santicola said. "We have attempted to get a fair and equitable settlement, and this strike is a last resort."

Fischer said negotiating sessions were conducted on Monday and Thursday during which "reasonable offers" from the school board were presented to the union that "reflect the economic state of the district, the region and the commonwealth."

"We had hoped that the union would continue to negotiate and not take this step, but it is certainly within their rights to strike, and obviously they have decided it was best to exercise that right at this time," Fischer said.

In December, the school board and the union rejected the recommendations of a fact-finder appointed by Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

Fischer said the unresolved issues involve salaries and benefits.

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