Pennsylvania teachers union fights job-saving insurance switch – just because it can

May 31, 2012


By Ben Velderman

LEHMAN, Pa. – Anyone who has dealt with a defiant teenager understands what is meant by the phrase “mindless opposition.”

Some people seem to enjoy arguing over the most routine, common sense things – just because they can.

Which takes us to Pennsylvania’s Lake-Lehman School District, where school employee unions are fighting efforts by school officials to switch health insurance plans.

The district is facing a $1.8 million budget shortfall, reports Officials have “already implemented pay freezes and work furloughs,” made cuts to supply budgets, and renegotiated contracts, leaving a change in the district’s health insurance provider as the only significant cost-saving option available, the news site reports.

Lake-Lehman leaders say switching insurance carriers will save the district about $1 million. Without the move, officials will have little choice but to cut eight teaching jobs, as well as the district’s sports programs.

School board members voted earlier this month to make the switch, but the unions representing the district’s teachers and support staff have “filed unfair labor practice complaints with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, as well as grievances against the district,” reports

The school employee unions have also filed an injunction in county court to prevent the cost-saving insurance switch.

The district’s current insurance carrier is also fighting the switch, but a county judge sided with the school district yesterday, giving Lake-Lehman officials at least a temporary victory. More legal wrangling is scheduled for next month, reports

Why are the unions fighting so hard against a move that would actually save the jobs of eight union members?

They say it’s because any board decisions involving employee health care must be negotiated with the unions. And for reasons known only to labor leaders and sulky teenagers, the union has decided to make trouble over this obvious, commonsensical decision.

One school official seemed surprised at the unions’ resistance.

“The only thing we’re trying to do is save money and continue providing high level benefits for the teachers,” District Solicitor John Audi told the news site.

The board’s motive for switching insurance seems purely innocent, but that’s doesn’t matter to the district’s “us-versus-them” labor unions.

Mindless opposition might make for interesting debates on cable news channels, but it’s completely destructive to public education, as the Lake-Lehman community is finding out.


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3 Responses

  1.  Yes this mindless opposition is detrimental to public education in so many ways for the concerned employees and for the public in general.

  2. What isn’t asked or answered here is: WHAT is the current Healthcare Insurance carrier for the Union. Is it a union owned and operated carrier similar to what’s (was) going on in Wisconsin, where the union owned and ran ran the Insurance carrier for the statewide Wisconsin Education Association?

  3. hutch1200 says:

    This union went on strike sporadicallly over a $5 co-pay. Where 38% have NO insurance. Kids and parents never knew when they would strike. Life was chaos for many.

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