REA teachers strike

Members of Reynolds Education Association picket outside the school Tuesday morning.

As Reynolds teachers continued Thursday morning with day three of their strike, tensions were starting to rise.

“We’re frustrated,” said William Foore, president of the Reynolds Education Association, as he stood in the rain.

Foore said he and other teachers in the 100-member union have been leaving messages for schools Superintendent Maddox B. Stokes and school board members, wanting to discuss the possibility of scheduling another negotiating session.

“They haven’t even tried to talk to us,” Foore said.



Stokes was not available for comment Thursday morning. His office staff said he had been in a meeting for a while and didn’t know when it would end, but would let him know The Herald wanted to speak with him.

Foore said the union was willing to continue contract talks during Monday night’s meeting with the board that ended at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, but the board chose to end the meeting.

“If you’re trying to settle it, wouldn’t you stay to the end?” Foore asked.

Dr. Charles Steele, a Pittsburgh lawyer and the board’s chief negotiator, said Wednesday neither the board nor the union decided to end the meeting all of a sudden at 1:30 a.m. That was the time the two sides had previously decided the meeting should end if a new contract hadn’t been settled.

However, Foore and Steele said the union and board would have been willing to stay longer, but each side claims the other wasn’t ready to settle disputed issues including salaries, benefits and retirement.

While the union hopes to hear from the board as soon as possible, they have plans to speak at Monday’s school board work session and Foore encourages the public to attend.

“Even if they’re against this (strike), at least get the board to move,” he said.

Teachers can strike up through Nov. 2 in order to get 180 days of classes completed by June 15, according to press release Thursday from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Reynolds Education Association plans to continue the strike as long as they’re allowed to do so if there’s no movement or tentative agreements made with the board on a new contracts, said Marcus D. Schlegel, a Pennsylvania State Education Association who is advising the union.

The union is required by law to return to work after Nov. 2 after which the board and union will be obligated to enter into non-binding arbitration and an arbiter will try and help settle a new contract, Schlegel said.

The union is allowed to go on strike a second time during the school year long enough for 180 days of classes to be completed by June 30, the Department of Education said.

The teachers union has set up a Web site that includes information on contract negotiations, the strike and contact information for school board members at reynoldsrea.psealocals.org

The school district posts information on its Web site at www.reynolds.k12.pa.us

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