Report: Luzerne County teachers were on strike 127 days in 20 years

By Mark Guydish - [email protected]

Luzerne County public school teacher unions have staged 13 strikes and walked the picket line for a total of 127 days since 1999, according to a new study. The good news: Only five of the county’s 11 districts have had strikes in that time.

The Commonwealth Foundation, long critical of teacher union’s in Pennsylvania, collected data on strikes in every district and posted the information online, sorting data by county. Overall, Pennsylvania’s 131 strikes since 1999 means “Pennsylvania leads the nation in teacher strikes, and it’s not even close,” Foundation Vice President Nathan Benefield said in an emailed statement.

“Pennsylvania is ground zero for strikes because we are one of only 12 states that explicitly legalize them, and—unlike most states—there is no penalty for striking,” Benefield said.

The data comes as Dallas School District teachers remain poised for a second strike this school year as negotiations remain often-acrimonious.

Dallas, in fact, had one of the longest strikes in the data compiled by the foundation, 25 days. Only four other strikes on the list were longer. Two lasted 30 days, one each at Millville Area and Bethel Park school districts, one lasted 27 days at Wilkinsburg Borough School District, and one lasted 26 days at North Schuylkill School District.

At the other end of the spectrum, 11 of the strikes state-wide lasted only one day, including two at Crestwood School District and one each at Northwest Area and Wyoming Area. Tunkhannock Area, in Wyoming County, also had a one-day strike.

The foundation contends 300,000 students were impacted by all the strikes since 1999, and that there were 1,383 missed school days. It also claims that, from 1968 to 2012, nearly 90 percent of teacher strikes in the country occurred in Pennsylvania.

In the email, Benefield called for the state legislature to consider reforms that “increase collective bargaining transparency, limit the scope of collective bargaining, and end state collection of political money to rein in these out-of-control strikes.”

By Mark Guydish

[email protected]

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish