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Scranton teachers poised to strike after talks go nowhere

Educators have been working under the terms of a contract that expired in 2017, with their last pay raise coming a year before that.

  • The Associated Press
Scranton School District Administration Building

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Scranton School District Administration Building

(Scranton) — Teachers in the Scranton School District were poised to strike on Wednesday after failing to reach an agreement with the district on a new contract to replace one that expired more than four years ago.

Teachers have been working under the terms of a contract that expired in 2017, with their last pay raise coming a year before that. Their union, the Scranton Federation of Teachers, notified the school district last week that a strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Educators were expected to picket at most schools.

Negotiators for the union and the district met with a state mediator on Monday, but the talks did not produce an agreement. Afterward, hundreds of district employees, students and parents packed a raucous school board meeting, with teachers chanting “Fair contract now!”

“You don’t care about our kids,” elementary art teacher Jennifer Felter told board members and administrators. “You have no soul.”

District solicitor John Audi has said the sides are $13 million apart on a new contract, and contended the union had not budged from its negotiating position after nearly 50 meetings.

At issue is the financially strapped district’s recovery plan, which says that any raises for teachers must come from savings elsewhere in the contract. Teachers oppose a health care proposal they say would financially cripple them.

The district said it will yank health insurance coverage from striking employees during the walkout. Employees called it a heartless decision, saying some employees or their family members are scheduled for cancer treatments or surgeries.

The teachers last went on strike in 2015 and were out for 11 days.

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