Bensalem teachers vote to authorize strike

Mike DeNardo
March 13, 2019 - 4:12 pm

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BENSALEM, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — After two years of negotiations, teachers in Bensalem have voted to authorize a strike. 

Members of the Bensalem Education Association have voted overwhelmingly to give their leadership the go-ahead to call a strike, if necessary. 

The vote came Monday night.   

The union has been working without a new contract since July 2017.   

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Negotiations resume next Wednesday, March 20.   

Union president Charles Morantz says while he has a strike authorization in hand, he's hoping an agreement is within reach.

"At this point, we have made some progress with the district. It is our hope that we're really, really close to a settlement, which would be ideal. We do not want to go on strike, but we have to prepare for all scenarios at this point. So essentially, we are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst," he said. 

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The district twice has rejected fact-finding reports that would have settled the contract dispute, but district Superintendent Sam Lee says the two sides have recently found middle ground, and he doesn't think a strike authorization will affect that.

"I don't think it'll have much. I hope it won't have any impact. We've been negotiating faithfully and diligently over the last couple of weeks and we remain optimistic about a settlement," Lee said. 

Under the last contract, the union's 450 teachers make between $51,000 and $113,000 a year. Lee says the district is facing the same budget pressures that most do, with rising charter school payments and pension costs.