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Scranton Federation of Teachers Members Approve Contract Agreement

For Immediate Release:
Nov. 23, 2021

Rosemary Boland

Janet Bass

SCRANTON, Pa.—After a 12-day strike, members of the Scranton Federation of Teachers today overwhelmingly approved a six-year contract agreement lasting through the 2022-23 school year The agreement includes raises and offers some back pay and step movements for the years teachers and paraprofessionals worked without a contract.

“Strikes are the last resort but that’s what had to happen to get a contract that provides fairness and respect after going five long years without a contract,” said SFT President Rosemary Boland. “It’s fitting that SFT members approved the contract on the eve of Thanksgiving. We are truly grateful for the overwhelming support we received from parents, students and the wider Scranton community. It definitely helped spur movement that resulted in a good settlement. But we know our work for Scranton students and schools is not over yet.”

SFT members voted overwhelmingly to give final approval to the tentative agreement, which was reached between SFT Local 1147 and the Scranton School District on Nov. 19. The Scranton Board of Education plans to vote on the agreement during a special meeting on Nov. 30. 

The district, school board and chief recovery officer finally agreed with the union that the contract should be paid for using available state and federal stimulus funds. This settlement will not require any tax increase, Boland said.

The contract agreement includes raises for all teachers, including providing a much-needed hike in the starting salary and bringing salaries closer to the average for teachers statewide. Paraprofessionals also will receive wage increases. Educators also will receive a portion of the back pay and step movements they “lost” during the four years they worked without a contract. These actions were needed, Boland said, to stem the exodus of many teachers and paraprofessionals and to help recruit and retain and educators in Scranton.

Healthcare benefits were vitally important throughout negotiations. This contract provides members access to the traditional healthcare benefits they so rightfully deserve, Boland said.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was in Scranton several times, including at the bargaining table.

“Educators’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. For too long in Scranton, public schools have faced an austerity crisis where the powers that be kept saying just do more with less. The professionals who teach and support children had been underpaid and constantly relied upon to always make up for harmful cuts to programs. It was not an easy negotiation--it required an almost three-week strike, one in which parents supported Scranton’s teachers and paraprofessionals on the picket lines, as I witnessed,” Weingarten said.

“The contract is good for kids and fair to educators who are so happy to be back with their students and working with families to help children thrive,” she said. “But we can’t stop now. We have to fight for the long-term resources our kids, families and educators need and deserve.”

AFT Pennsylvania President Arthur Steinberg said he will continue to fight for sustainable and adequate funding for public education.

“This all could have been avoided if there was an equitable state formula for public education funding,” Steinberg said. “A victory in the current fair funding trial in Philadelphia is essential so that every student in Pennsylvania will have the opportunity for a quality education with well-rounded programs and school facilities that are safe and healthy.”

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