Rose Tree Media Teachers Authorize A Strike, If Necessary They Expressed Concern About Not Enough Progress In Talks. Again, They Are Working Without A Contract.

Posted: November 05, 1998

Teachers in the 4,100-student Rose Tree Media School District overwhelmingly approved a strike-authorization vote Tuesday, saying they were disappointed with the lack of progress in contract talks.

Kathleen Callahan, president of the 286-member Rose Tree Media Education Association, said yesterday that the vote enabled the bargaining team to call for a strike if ``we feel it's necessary.'' The teachers' contract expired Aug. 30.

This is the third time in as many contract negotiations that the teachers have returned to work in September without a contract, Callahan said. The teachers believe this reflects a lack of respect, she said.

The school board and teachers have been negotiating since March, Callahan said. The major issues are salaries, benefits, and the number of workdays in the school year, said district spokeswoman Eileen Welde.

Another issue is the pay for coaches, which Callahan said was low.

The teachers boycotted back-to-school nights this year ``to let parents know of our plight,'' Callahan said. The students are not being affected, she said: ``The teachers are there doing their jobs.''

Neither side would comment on details of negotiations. The next bargaining session is Nov. 25.

In the neighboring, 3,300-student Penn-Delco School District, the school board and union met again for contract talks Tuesday night without success. The union made an offer early yesterday, but the board members had left before the state mediator went to present it, a union news release said.

Board member Lynda L. Kerstetter said the state mediator told the board that he was going to recess the talks, so board members left at 11:30 p.m. Kerstetter said she returned after getting a phone call that the offer had been made. However, Kerstetter rejected the offer, calling it the same one the board rejected in September.

The union proposal called for annual raises of 2.5 percent and adjustments in the co-payment on all medical benefits, the union news release said.

Kerstetter said the union's offer was for annual 2.5 percent raises for five years plus step increments, which she said added to the cost of the proposal.

At the start of the meeting, the board and union resolved a grievance filed by the union over the pay for new teachers.

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