Your view: Blame state legislators for Dallas teachers strike

Those of us who are retired and living on fixed incomes are severely affected by the demands of the Dallas teachers union.

Neither the PSEA’s negotiator, John Holland, nor the local teachers union president, Michael Cherinka, has a vested interest in Dallas.

Early on one guaranteed the teachers would not pay “one cent” toward their insurance, and the other that they would receive pay retroactive to the most recent contract. What, then, are they negotiating?

The Dallas School Board is adamant that negotiations will only be finalized at a cost that the community can afford.

Personal research indicates that the Dallas School Board has not caused this problem. Nor have the teachers, who have seen their professional status lowered in the minds of our citizens. Rather, the state is at fault.

The Legislature has enacted laws which have tied the hands of school board members.

At a recent meeting I asked, “Why are we continuing to pay 100 percent of the health care costs of teachers who are on strike?” Ending that practice would encourage the teachers to seek a reasonable solution of the strike issues.

I was then informed that such action would be against the law. Of note, 37 states have enacted legislation that outlaws public school teachers’ strikes.

If the root cause of the negotiation impasse is a result of Pennsylvania’s ill-advised legislation, why cannot our Legislature attend to the problem’s solution?

Why aren’t Sen. Lisa Baker and Rep. Karen Bobeck taking a position in all this? I have no answer to that question.

Is it due to financial contributions made by the PSEA and teachers to their campaigns? Again, I have no answer.

Is it because they are sensitive to the voter bloc teachers represent? In truth, I have no answer to that question either.

I would encourage Baker and Bobeck to form a local citizen’s committee and arrange for that group to meet with the Legislature’s PSEA oversight committee. The local committee should then be scheduled to present its case to the entire body of Pennsylvania’s senators and representatives.

Finally, it seems to me that as long as Holland and Cherinka remain involved in settlement discussions there is no end to this impasse in sight. I urge the Dallas teachers to send Holland back to Harrisburg and elect representatives who have a vested interest in this community.

Clarke D. Bittner

Dallas taxpayer