Ringgold teachers threaten to strike

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Teachers in Ringgold School District Monday have authorized their negotiating team to order a strike in the event contract talks reach a stalemate.


The 227 Ringgold members of the Pennsylvania State Education Association threatened to walk off the job after working without a contract for more than a year, PSEA spokesman Fritz Fekete said Tuesday.


“That does not mean there will be a strike,” said Fekete, who works in the union’s office in Hunker, Westmoreland County.


A strike authorization vote gives the teachers’ negotiating team permission to call a strike without returning to the local union for permission, he said.


Ringgold teachers called two strikes in the 2004-05 term before reaching the previous five-year contract in October 2007. Under that deal, the teachers received raises of between $6,900 and $7,100 over the life of the contract.


District negotiator William Stein Jr., vice president of the school board, said he was surprised the teachers “took the tactic” to authorize a strike.


“Maybe they didn’t feel things were moving as fast as they’d like,” Stein said.


He said both negotiating teams signed an agreement to keep silent in public about negotiations.


Eventually, he said, there will be a contract following a “varying degree of pain.”


“Hopefully, we’ll get there.”


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