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Without new contract, Conrad Weiser School District teachers limit unpaid work

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 24 2013 09:54:52 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 24 2013 06:04:53 PM CDT

Teachers in the Conrad Weiser School District are frustrated to the point that they will begin curtailing some of their unpaid work, the teachers' union announced Thursday.

HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. -

Teachers in the Conrad Weiser School District are taking a stand and will begin curtailing some of their unpaid work after 16 months without a new contract, the teacher's union announced Thursday.

The union, which represents 225 teachers, has been meeting with the school district since January 2012 to negotiate a new contract.

Wendy Kushner, president of the Conrad Weiser Education Association, said the union has reached its breaking point. She accused the school board members of dragging their feet.

"We want to negotiate, we want to bargain, we want to get a fair contract and we want to move on," said Kushner, who is also an art teacher in the district.

On Thursday, the union made a big move. Teachers will no longer schedule educational programs or meetings before or after the contractual work day.

"We think that it's time people notice all the things we do outside of our contract," said Kushner.

District officials told 69 News they met with the union 25 times in the last 16 months to negotiate.

In a statement prepared by the school board, Superintendent Randall Grove said, in part, everyone but the teacher's union has agreed to a pay freeze for the 2012-2013 school year.

"The board is ready to negotiate a multi-year contract if the CWEA will agree to take a freeze during the 2012-2013 school year," said Grove.

There are nearly 3,000 students in the district. Parents said there has to be a better solution and fear a strike is looming.

"What's really going to hurt is the kids. Their education is really going to suffer," said David Arroyo.

"Somebody gets hurt for somebody to make a move and it will be the kids," said Peggy Odom.

Kushner said the union has the authorization to call a strike, but it doesn't want it to come to that.

According to the district, its negotiators offered to meet with the union three times in the next two months, but the union declined to meet in November, and indicated it is not willing to meet again until Dec. 11, 2013.