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LIU strike lasts 1 day

June 06, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After a one-day strike Monday, the 629 members of the Lincoln Intermediate Unit Education Association were to return to work this morning at the Franklin Learning Center and other schools in the region, but the issues that prompted the work stoppage remain unresolved.

There were no classes for the approximately 175 school children and 45 preschoolers at the learning center Monday, said Jane Adams-Delp, the center's supervisor of special education. Twenty-nine Lincoln Intermediate Unit staff members work at the center, she said, serving students with various disabilities from five school districts in the county.

The problem was less severe at districts served by LIU staff.

"Our students are getting the educational services they need," Waynesboro Area School District Superintendent Barry Dallara said.

While neurologically impaired students in the Chambersburg Area School District were affected by the strike, other students were in school, said Eric Michael, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. English as a second language students, for example, did not receive ESL instruction, but were in school, he said.

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Those Franklin County Career and Technology Center students who receive instruction through the LIU were instead attending their regular shop classes, Michael said.

"They notified us this afternoon they are back to work tomorrow," Kim Smith, the attorney for Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12, said Monday. "They did not give us a reason as to why it was one day."

"Our membership had given us direction ... and we followed through with those directions," said Holly Musselman, president of the association. She said the membership wanted to show the LIU it was capable of staging a strike.

"We really want to be in the classroom and enjoying the last few days of school with our students," Musselman said. On Sunday, Musselman said the strike was called by the membership, not by the union's negotiating team.

Musselman said up to 100 teachers at a time walked the picket line outside the LIU offices in New Oxford, Pa., Monday.

Smith said the LIU's professional staff has been working without a contract since June 30, 2005. Negotiations began in January 2005, she said.

"There's still quite a few issues on the table, the big ones being health care and salary," Musselman said. The association represents teachers in 25 school districts, as well as the career and technology centers in Franklin and York counties and two learning centers, she said.

In November 2005, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board reported that the LIU had accepted recommendations from a fact finder, which were rejected by the association. The union was asking for 6 percent in 2005-06 with 5 percent increases during the next four years, compared to 3.75 percent in the first year by the LIU, according to the report.

The recommendation of the fact-finder essentially split the difference, with an increase of 4.5 percent the first year, followed by smaller increases, according to the report.

The strike came after an 48-hour strike notice was rescinded last week. The second notice was issued Friday.

While the strike is over, it is creating year-end complications for the school districts and other educational centers. State law requires 180 days of instruction by June 15 and the loss of Monday's classes has to be made up by many schools, said Herb Phelps, the LIU's interim executive director.

Phelps said those districts must arrange for transportation, lunch and nursing services for LIU students for another day. Adams-Delp said the last day of classes at the center will be Friday instead of Thursday.

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