Harrisburg teachers union still hoping for new contract

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Hundreds of members of the Harrisburg Education Association gathered to hear Chief Recovery Officer Dr. Audrey Utley present her amended recovery plan to the school board.

The goal is to get a new contract in place by the end of the school year.

Union members have been working without a new deal for more than 1,400 days and have not received a pay raise in five years.

Utley’s amended proposal was released on Monday. It calls for an improvement in student test scores, classroom attendance, and also pay raises for district employees.

“There are some recommendations for some one-time payments to existing teachers as a thank you that they have decided to remain during the difficult times,” Utley said.

Utley said the recovery plan consists of recommendations and it’s up to the unions and the district to work out the details.

Patience is starting to wear thin among union members.

Jody Barksdale is the president of the Harrisburg Education Association. She says it looked like a deal would get done in late April, and then talks stopped after it was announced the recovery officer would share her amended plan on Monday night.

Barksdale says frustration continues to grow and that membership has authorized the executive committee to call a strike, if necessary.

“That is not what we want,” Barksdale said. “We want to continue bargaining and we want to get a contract ratified by June 2.”

The school board has been asked to vote on the amended plan on May 16.

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