We have watched the Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker and his battles with state employees over legislation to take away collective bargaining rights. Walker’s actions hit a cord across the country; public employees are drawing the battleground in Ohio, Florida, from coast to coast. Now we see it in Pennsylvania.
The proposed $1 billion budget cut to public education by Gov. Tom Corbett has driven three teachers unions in the Lehigh Valley area to organize. Because of school district budget deficits and state funding cuts, hundreds of teacher jobs are on the chopping block in the Lehigh Valley . . . the teacher unions are fighting back. In a show of solidarity, 3,500 teachers in the Allentown, Bethlehem Area and Easton Area school districts have voted to unite with union members from the Lehigh Valley Labor Council and Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. The teachers are joining forces with their brothers and sisters in the manufacturing, building and service unions to fight Harrisburg. The AFL-CIO membership in Pennsylvania has 900,000 union workers. Together, the unions believe they need to take a stand for the working middle class family in Pennsylvania.
With organized labor getting behind the teachers, one could guess that means additional financial support to help fight Harrisburg. Union members believing that Corbett’s budget is an attempt to balance the budgets on the backs of the working class, these 1.1 million voices are saying ‘no’ to the Governor and his proposed budget cuts for public education.
Exactly what these ‘voices’ have in mind for Harrisburg is yet to be seen. And I wonder if the TESD teachers will decide on a similar path to the Lehigh Valley teachers as the school board works to balance the district budget and as the calendar moves closer to contract negotiations.