The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 2, 2013

Line Mountain teachers won't do volunteer jobs at schools

They say board slow to act on contract

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

HERNDON —  Educators in the Line Mountain School District, who have been working without a contract since June 2012, will meet Thursday in a closed-door negotiating session with district administrators over a new contract.

Teachers are working under an expired contract, that was itself a one-year extension of a five-year contract that ended June 30, 2011. That contract assured educators of a 3 percent raise during each year of the agreement.

But even as negotiations continue, the Line Mountain Educational Association, representing 110 teachers, is engaged in a “working to rule” action meant to demonstrate its frustration with past negotiations.

A work to rule action means teachers will perform their duties as outlined by the collective bargaining agreement, but will not do any work voluntarily beyond the terms and conditions of the contract. That work action began on Monday.

The Line Mountain Education Association notified the district of the work action last Thursday, saying they would end voluntary service each week for the next several weeks.

Superintendent David Campbell declined on Tuesday afternoon to comment on the teachers’ action.

But school board President Troy Laudenslager issued a statement.

“Yes, I was surprised by the action,” he said in the statement. “It is an unfortunate tactic.

The union representatives, he continued, are the ones stalling the negotiations.

“They’re dragging this out,” he said. “I don’t understand their game. They don’t want to talk; they don’t want to discuss.”

Laudenslager said that considering the teacher contract, “working to the rule” means teachers are willing to work only the minimum required 7 1/2 hours per day, 186 days per year, with three personal days and 10 sick days.

Elementary staffers have 6 1/2 hours of instruction time, and middle/high school staff have 7 hours of instruction time.

Under working to the rule, Laudenslager noted, teachers can be required to attend three evening meetings per year — for example  orientation, graduation and parent-teacher conferences, without extra pay.

Typically, Laudenslager said, when teachers work overtime required by the district, they make $22 an hour

Meanwhile, Mark Shearer, association president and a teacher in the school district, said in an email, “The purpose of ‘working to rule’ is to demonstrate to the school board the great amount of work we do voluntarily, both before and after the work day.”

“We hope that the board will realize the value of our work and truly understand that our teachers voluntarily go above and beyond the requirements of our contract every day,” Shearer said.

“Our teachers are dedicated professionals who have continued to provide high-quality educational programs to the students during this entire contract bargaining process,” he said, “but working two-years without a contract is way too long.”

Attempts Tuesday evening to reach Shearer by phone and email were unsuccessful.