Hank's Take: Methacton School District strike

- Methacton school teachers are striking. Their union has been negotiating since January for a new deal, and while negotiations have made progress, no contract has been agreed upon.

The problem seems to be the rising cost of healthcare and who pays for it. Teachers say that they’re being asked to pay a higher percentage than the offered bonus would cover.    

“Over 26 pays it’s a thousand forty dollars,” says Diana Kernop of the Methacton Educators Association, the teachers’ union.    “So if you get a thousand dollar raise and you’re going to pay an increase of a thousand forty in your healthcare.”

Supportive parents brought pizza to the striking teachers through the day, as empty school buses came and went, carrying no students.  They’re contracted to an outside company that fulfills its contractual obligations regardless of the strike.

Some kids were about, but since there was no school, why stick around?  16-year-old Samantha Haas says she’s taking a lot of AP classes and is a drum major, so a strike makes things tough.  

“Most of my teachers have said that you have to keep up with your work even if you’re not in class,” she says, as her mother watches.    “So it’s up to us now – to keep going even if we’re not in school.”

Penn State Labor Relations professor Paul Clark says that districts asking teachers to carry more of the health insurance burden has become a common dynamic, and a sticking point in contract negotiations.    The Methacton School Board says they’ll continue to negotiate in good faith – and they agree with the teachers that yes – the health care plan and who pays what for it is the sticking point.   Maybe the teachers and the district ought to get together and negotiate with the health insurance provider – hmm…  That’s where the money’s ending up.  I’m Hank – and that’s my take.

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