By Victor Skinner
TURBOTVILLE, Pa. – Students at Warrior Run High School are learning a lesson about collective bargaining, but they don’t seem to understand the moral of the story.
School officials have been negotiating with the Warrior Run Education Association since June 2011, but have been unable to come to an agreement on health care contributions from employees, among other issues, the Daily Item reports.
As a result, the WREA instituted a work-to-contract protest in which teachers refuse to work one minute longer than their expired contract stipulates, leaving students to fend for themselves with extracurricular activities like the student newspaper, or extra help after school.
The union has also filed a notice of intent to strike, meaning they will abandon their students on Sept. 3, 2013 if a contract is not finalized, the news site reports.
Both moves, of course, are pressure tactics designed to drum up sympathy for teachers and public animosity toward the school board. If it weren’t for stubborn school leaders, teachers wouldn’t “have to” resort to such drastic measures, the union contends.
The plan is working to perfection. The union’s influence on students was obvious at a recent school board meeting.
“These teachers, they bend over backwards for us,” junior Brandy McCoy told the school board, the Daily Item reports. “Please don’t make us suffer any more.”
“We feel it has been difficult because we haven’t been able to stay after school, therefore we are forced to work only during our study halls,” said Makayla Finan, an editor of the school newspaper. “There is so much to do; we just feel it would be better if there was more time to work in it.”
Students understand that the collective bargaining process is creating havoc in their school district, but they don’t realize why. They’re complaining to the wrong people.
Students aren’t suffering because school administrators want to penalize them, or because board members don’t like or respect teachers. School officials are simply working in the best interests of students and taxpayers to use scarce public resources as efficiently as possible.
That’s especially important at a time when state funding for public schools is tight, and every dollar counts. Labor costs take a huge bite out of every school budget. This is a time for unions to step back and accept a little less so that schools have enough money to serve students.
Students and taxpayers must recognize when they’re being used by the teachers union, and call the union out on its pressure tactics when necessary.
Instead of blindly following their teachers’ lead, students and the community would be better served by demanding that both sides reveal their contract demands publicly.
Only then will they be able to make an educated judgment about whether the union’s financial demands are reasonable or not. Only then will they understand the real moral of the story.