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July 11, 2014

Union rep dazed by talks, says L.M. provoking strike

MANDATA — A statement by the Line Mountain School District one day after the most recent contract negotiation session has left a Line Mountain Teacher Association representative “flabbergasted” and “insulted.”

Benjamin L. Pratt, the district’s labor counsel at the CGA Law Firm, issued the statement Thursday morning, saying Line Mountain is working to prevent a strike by the district’s 99 teachers by the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.

However, Mark McDade, Pennsylvania State Education Association field service representative for the district’s teachers, said that while the educators have the option to strike, no notice has been given to the district.

Only 53 more days and two scheduled negotiation sessions stand between now and the first student day of school on Sept. 2. If a contract is not reached by that date, Line Mountain’s 99 teachers will be have been working on a contract that expired two years and 62 days ago.

“The school board members for the Line Mountain School District are hopeful that a strike can be averted,” Pratt said in the statement. “However, the threat of a strike will not diminish the school board’s responsibility for keeping the financial stability of the district intact going forward. The school board does not want the program and employee cuts, which other districts are experiencing, to be part of a settlement for a contract.”

The union has shown only regressive bargaining over the past 2 1/2 years, Pratt said.

“The association has been unwilling to compromise on the district’s issues and are demanding that the school board provide their members with unobtainable financial increases, as well as reducing the management rights found within the collective bargaining agreement,” he said.

The union’s tactics at the negotiating table have resulted in its filing numerous grievances and unfair labor practices against Line Mountain, Pratt said. The school board is maintaining its right to conduct business during the union’s self-imposed work to rule and not succumbing to the pressures to provide the financial demands of the union, Pratt said.

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