Harrisburg Education Association calls off Friday’s strike

HARRISBURG -- The Harrisburg Education Association (HEA) said Wednesday in a news release that it has called off Friday's one-day strike in response to what it believes to be the Harrisburg School District's failure to address the needs of students.

The association said that its decision came after the school district agreed to withdraw its change to a recovery plan that would have included items that are mandatory bargaining issues. The association will also not move forward with its unfair labor practice charge that was filed Tuesday.

"We are glad that we were able to avoid disrupting the end-of-the-year schedule and activities for our students,” said Jody Barksdale, HEA president and a middle-school math and science teacher. "We hope that this shows a mutual commitment to resolving the outstanding issues through good-faith bargaining."

Barksdale added, "While this addresses one of the main issues of the strike, we still have a long way to go towards fixing the district’s chronic teacher turnover. The district needs to address these issues in order to provide our students with the stability in the classroom that they deserve."

The association said that the school district "commits to resolving labor management/contract issues through collective bargaining, instead of through an end-around through an amendment to the recovery plan."

The Harrisburg School District released the following statement:

According to Harrisburg School District Chief Negotiator, Jeffrey T. Sultanik of Fox Rothschild LLP, the Harrisburg Education Association and the Harrisburg School District have developed an agreed upon framework for future teacher contract negotiations that has averted the strike scheduled for Friday, May 31 at 7:30 AM. Classes and all District services will proceed as originally scheduled.

The framework that has resulted in averting the strike provides as follows:

1.  HEA will withdraw its unfair labor practice charge and its strike notice, and commit not to strike for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year.

2.  The District will withdraw its PRIORITIZED ISSUES FOR THE AMENDED RECOVERY PLAN AND FINAL BEST OFFER request from the Chief Recovery Officer (CRO), it being understood that the District does not control what the CRO will take into account in developing a successor Amended Recovery Plan.

3.  The District commits to resolve labor management/contract issues through collective bargaining, instead of through a circuitous process by pursuing an amendment to the Recovery Plan through the CRO.

4. Within 21 calendar days following the June 3, 2019 scheduled meeting with the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s contractor Public Financial Management (PFM), HEA commits to submit a comprehensive written proposal that is consistent with the limitations of the current 2016 Amended Recovery Plan as interpreted by PFM, including but not limited to salary and benefits proposals for the years covered by the current Recovery Plan, as well as good faith bargaining responses to the PRIORITIZED ISSUES FOR THE AMENDED RECOVERY PLAN (NOW SUCCESSOR COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT) AND FINAL BEST OFFER.

Harrisburg School District Superintendent, Dr. Sybil Knight-Burney said, “I am very happy that HEA and the District have been able to come to terms on a framework that will hopefully lead the parties to constructive labor contract negotiations that will address the continual challenges faced by our fiscally strained District. I am also thrilled that our students and community will not have to bear the brunt of a work stoppage, albeit one day in duration. The District remains committed to working hard to resolve our differences with our valued teaching staff.”

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