Pennsylvania leads nation in teacher strikes


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Pennsylvania is the teacher strike capitol of America. Since 1999, Pennsylvania families have suffered through 131 strikes, affecting 300,000 students and causing 1,383 missed school days.

This research, including county, school district, and duration data, was gathered via open records requests filed by the Commonwealth Foundation and is available to search and download: https://bit.ly/2k1qodh. Additionally, from 1968 to 2012 nearly 90 percent of the nation’s teacher strikes occurred in the Keystone State, according to a Mother Jones analysis.

“Pennsylvania leads the nation in teacher strikes, and it’s not even close,” commented Nathan Benefield, vice president and COO for the Commonwealth Foundation, who recently delivered testimony on teacher strikes before the Senate Education Committee. “Pennsylvania is ground zero for strikes because we are one of only 12 states that explicitly legalize them, and — unlike most states — there is no penalty for striking.

“The harsh reality is, strikes force parents to miss work or pay for child care when schools close, disrupt students’ educations, and can have negative consequences for teachers. Union leaders can discipline teachers who disagree with a strike and choose to cross picket lines, including imposing fines and suing teachers who don’t pay up.”

In Pennsylvania, most public schoolteachers must join or pay a fee to a union as a condition of employment. But that could change if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with the plaintiff in the historic case Janus v. AFSCME. A ruling in this case is expected in June. In urging the court to uphold the status quo, union leaders claim forced unionism promotes “labor peace,” but Pennsylvania’s strike data tells a different story.

“Pennsylvania’s teacher-strike scourge refutes the notion that forced unionism helps ensure labor peace,” continued Benefield. “Despite the deck being stacked in their favor, teachers’ union leaders abuse their power at the expense of Pennsylvania students and families. At the very least, lawmakers should consider reforms that increase collective bargaining transparency, limit the scope of collective bargaining, and end state collection of political money to rein in these out-of-control strikes.”

John Bouder

Commonwealth Foundation



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