UNION CITY, Pa. — Teachers came together with a singular voice at the Union City Area School District’s board meeting Thursday.
The district’s roughly 90 educators have been working without a contract since June 30, 2016, or more than 440 days.
“Everything’s frozen. So, nobody can make moves. There’s no advancements. We’re frozen in place,” said Denise Kochanczyk, president of the Union City Area Education Association.
According to Kochanczyk, salary and health care were both areas of concern during early negotiations, but teachers have made strides with health care requests.
Pennsylvania State Education Association representative Marcus Schlegel said, “We certainly wish that we had had more meetings to be able to move and come to a reasonable solution that is acceptable to both sides.”
The district said it would like to honor the requests of teachers, but that it cannot afford the costs.
“I think any district would love to give their staff more, because we know our teachers and we value our staff, and give them more, but we don’t have the money, right now,” said George Trauner, president of the Union Area School Board.
“People know that this isn’t a wealthy district. We don’t come here expecting it to be a wealthy district,” said Kochanczyk, who is also a sixth-grade teacher at Union City Area Middle-High School.
Trauner said, “One might say that you can get the money by raising taxes. We’ve raised it to the index. We don’t really feel this community can take on anymore.”
Kochanczyk and fellow teachers are hoping for a solution that will keep them in mind.
“We want to be competitive,” she said. “We want to be able to be paid competitively and be able to attract good teachers and keep experienced teachers.”
The two sides expect to meet next for negotiation talks on Sept. 25.