Judge’s order prevents Dallas teachers from striking again

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WILKES-BARRE — A Luzerne County judge issued a permanent order Wednesday to prevent Dallas School District teachers to from going back on strike this school year.

Teacher strikes are limited because of a state requirement that students have 180 days of instruction in the school year by June 30, and the last and 180th day of the school year for Dallas students is Friday, June 29.

Teachers went on strike Tuesday after the school board didn’t vote at Monday’s meeting on a new labor contract offer from the teachers union. They were back at work Wednesday.

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Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury on Wednesday also scheduled a hearing at noon today on a motion from the teachers union requesting court supervision of future negotiations. Amesbury indicated he was willing to approve the request, but he scheduled another hearing to give Dallas Solicitor Vito DeLuca more time to review the request.

State Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera filed the request Tuesday in Luzerne County Court to prevent teachers from going on strike another day. They went on strike for eight days earlier in the school year and were on strike for 22 days in 2016.

Teachers have been working without a labor deal since September 2015, and teachers have since not been able to advance steps on a pay scale with annual salaries that range from $34,501 to $80,886. Teachers have continued to receive health benefits, and current health plans do not require premium-share contributions from teachers — something district negotiators want.

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The union’s last offer would increase the average teacher salary from $62,076 this year to $77,086 in 2018-19, while the district proposed an increase to $67,505 in 2018-19, School District Business Manager Grant Palfey said. The teachers union, the Dallas Education Association, is a local union in the Pennsylvania State Education Association with more than 170 members.

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