Cranberry teachers could strike

The Cranberry Education Association voted to deliver notice to the Cranberry Area School Board of its intention to strike, unless there is a resolution to current negotiations by May 23, according to a news release from the union.

In the release, the union said the sides “are close to an agreement on paper,” but the association’s decision was in reaction to the “strong-arm stance” of the school board’s negotiating team.

That stance, the union said, includes the board’s refusal to move on wage increases, despite health care and other concessions from the teachers; the board’s previous declaration of refusal to negotiate over the summer; and a perceived threat that retroactivity would be off the table if sides failed to reach agreement at a May 30 bargaining session.

“I think people looked at the situation and concluded that if the board isn’t willing to work with us now, won’t meet over the summer, and won’t agree to retroactivity if we don’t settle on their current terms, then we can either stand up now or stand up in the fall,” CEA negotiations Chairman Brad Earp said in the release.

“And they chose to stand up now so the board knows we won’t be bullied,” he said.

Also in the release, CEA President Matt Stevens said, “This is a serious decision and we still hope that the parties can find a resolution,” and if that is the board’s position “then we’ll be on strike now and possibly this fall.”

The union represents the 96 teachers, nurses, counselors and education professionals employed by the Cranberry Area School District, according to the release.

Thomas Neely, president of the school board, could not be reached for comment late Friday.