The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

December 17, 2013

Danville teachers vote for strike authorization

DANVILLE — After a vote Monday night, members of the Danville Education Association are clear to hold a strike in the future if they decide to do so.

The strike authorization passed with a majority of the support from the union’s approximately 190 members, according to association president Dave Fortunato.

“I did not want it to come to this and neither did anybody else. When the facts were given to the bargaining unit, they overwhelmingly passed the vote,” he said.

While the teachers are still going to work, the vote is a sign that the union is taking ongoing negotiations with the district very seriously, Fortunato said. “We would not have had this vote this evening if we were not serious about it. Hopefully it does not come to that.” Fortunato could not recall a previous time in his 17 years with the district that the teachers had gone on strike.

The union felt the board is being unfair in its dealings with them, Fortunato said. He referenced a fact-finder’s report filed by a state-appointed arbiter this past spring. The fact-finder’s report recommended a 2.5 percent to 3.2 percent pay increase for each school year from 2012-2013 through 2015-2016 as well as salary step advancements for those school years except 2012-2013.

Fortunato said the fact-finder would not have recommended these increases if the school district did not have the money for them. The DEA voted to approve the report, while the school board voted to reject it.

The next negotiation session between the DEA and the school board is scheduled for early February.

School board president Allan Schappert could not be reached for comment Monday night.

Email questions or comments to rstoneback@thedanvillenews.com.

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