What to Do About Teacher Strikes

Pennsylvania once again led the nation in teacher strikes. Although only 13 states permit them, Pennsylvania tops the chart again as more students are deprived of up to 180 days worth of education.

Governor-elect Tom Corbett has shown support for the ban of the strikes, but wants to look into more ways to avoid them first.

A ‘forced-unionism’ state, Pennsylvania school districts can force union representation upon its employees —requiring mandatory contributions to unions as a condition of employment. About 85 percent of teacher strikes in Pennsylvania occur in districts with forced unionism contracts (about 2/3 of the school districts).

Ignoring the fact teacher strikes deprive students of education, allowing government employees to strike makes little sense. In fact, due to the nature of the school year, school employees do not even lose pay for striking in Pennsylvania, which is one reason why Pennsylvania leads the nation. Outlawing teacher strikes—or fining school employees for each day they strike—could be a first step to fixing the public education system in the Commonwealth.

To help inform taxpayers during teacher strikes, the Commonwealth Foundation recently launched openPAgov.org, which provide information on school employees’ salaries, school spending and taxes, and school district performance.