DALLAS TWP. — The Dallas teachers union has rescinded a strike notice for Sept. 5, eliminating the option of a strike on the first day of school, according to a notice posted on the district website.
Little information has been available on the status of contract negotiations since Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury issued a gag order following an agreement by both sides to return to court-mandated daily negotiations. Amesbury got involved in June when state Education Secretary Pedro Rivera asked the court to order teachers to end a strike and return to class to comply with state law.
The law allows two strikes in one school year. The first must end in time for students to get 180 days of classes by June 15, and the second must end in time to get 180 days by June 30. The state technically can’t order teachers back to work, but can ask a judge to do so.
Amesbury ordered daily negotiations between the school board and union representatives beginning July 11, but board members did not show up July 17 and 18. District Solicitor Vito Deluca filed an appeal of Amesbury’s order, and argued negotiations were on hold pending the appeal. The union disagreed, and asked Amesbury to declare the board in contempt of court.
After meeting with Amesbury, the two sides issued a joint statement Aug. 9 saying they would drop their legal actions and resume negotiations Aug. 11. But the gag order went into effect and little information has been offered since.
At an Aug. 13 meeting, the school board unanimously approved a motion authorizing Deluca to contact Amesbury “and convey the district’s agreement to his request that the Dallas School District and Dallas Education Association enter into binding, final best offer arbitration.”
While state law requires non-binding arbitration at certain points in such drawn-out negotiations, binding arbitration can occur only if both sides agree to it.
The teachers have been working under the terms of a contract that expired in August 2015.
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish