Rock and Metcalfe Say Now Is the Time to Expel Teacher Strikes from Pennsylvania School Districts

With approximately 42 Pennsylvania public school districts at risk for an immediate teacher strike due to expired contracts and 120 additional public school districts facing the possibility of a strike before the end of 2011, State Representatives Todd Rock (R-Franklin) and Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) hosted a Capitol news conference today to unveil the STRIKE-FREE Education Pact (House Bills 1369 & 1640) to outlaw teacher strikes and other public school lockouts in Pennsylvania. 

“Last month, Governor Tom Corbett could not have been more accurate when he singled out teacher unions as the number one reason for failing public schools in Pennsylvania,” said Rock.  “There is no more perfect illustration for what the governor cited as forcing school districts ‘to focus too much on contract negotiations and too little on curriculum’ than the fact that during the 2009-10 school year, Pennsylvania once again maintained its status as the undisputed ‘Teacher Strike Capital of the United States’ with nearly 35,000 students locked out and left behind from the classroom.   The fundamental purpose of the legislation we are introducing today is to restore to every Pennsylvania child the legal right to a strike-free, uninterrupted public education.”   

Recognized both statewide and nationally by the Wall Street Journal, Rock’s STRIKE-FREE Education Act (House Bill 1369) would immediately outlaw teacher strikes and lockouts at the statutory level and contains several clearly defined and enforceable financial penalties, including: $5,000 individual fine, per incident for inciting a strike; striking teachers losing two days of pay, each day of an illegal strike; and the striking teachers union forfeiting its dues check-off privilege for one year.  

“In addition to short-changing students by completely short-circuiting the education process, teacher strikes are ultimately the hammer that drives property taxes through the roof as taxpayers are left footing the bill for union-driven salary increases and lengthy arbitrations,” said Metcalfe, whose legislative district has been negatively impacted by three public school-closing teacher strikes during the past several years.  “Passage of the STRIKE-FREE Education Pact will finally expel the self-serving greed of public sector unions that have no legitimate place in the public service arena or in Pennsylvania.” 

Article 3, Section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution currently states: “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.”   

If approved in two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly and by voter referendum, Metcalfe’s legislation (House Bill 1640) would amend, expand and clarify Article 3, Section 14 with the following plain English provision:  

“And shall not provide for any lawful strike or lockout of employees of public education.” 

“Due to circumstances absolutely beyond their control, strike-impacted parents and guardians have no choice but to find child care during a strike, in order to keep earning their paychecks,” said Metcalfe. “However, striking teacher union members suffer no economic loss because they will be retroactively paid for the 180 days of instruction as mandated by state law.”    

Currently, 37 states, including neighboring New York and New Jersey, prohibit teacher strikes.  

Within the past decade, the majority of teacher strikes nationwide occurred in three states:   Pennsylvania (94), Illinois (29) and Ohio (28).   During this time, more than 247,000 Pennsylvania students have had their learning experiences interrupted and adversely impacted by teacher strikes.   

“Speaking from the unique perspective of a former non-union teacher who endured a teacher strike, a former school board member and, even more recently, witnessing the first teacher strike and the threats of two other strikes in my legislative district in more than 25 years, I can personally attest that teacher strikes produce no winners and as a whole generate nothing but community resentment,” said Rock. “Pennsylvania students and taxpayers deserve nothing less than equal protection of their right to an uninterrupted public education.   The time for immediate action on the STRIKE-FREE Education Pact is now.” 

Say “YES” to the STRIKE-FREE Education Pact today by completing the online petition at or

Offices of State Representatives Todd Rock & Daryl Metcalfe
Contact:  Ty McCauslin

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