Simmons Supports Legislation that Bans Teacher Strikes in Pennsylvania

Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh/Northampton) is a co-sponsor of legislation that would outlaw teacher strikes and other public school lockouts in Pennsylvania.  Simmons joined the legislation’s prime sponsors, Reps. Todd Rock (R-Franklin) and Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), at a Capitol news conference today to unveil the STRIKE-FREE Education Pact (House Bills 1369 and 1640). 


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, Simmons said the time to take action is long overdue.  “The banning of teacher strikes is not a revolutionary concept,” said Simmons.  “Thirty-seven other states do this.  It’s time to end Pennsylvania’s embarrassing title of teacher strike capital of the United States.”


Recognized both statewide and nationally by the Wall Street Journal, the 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, per incident for inciting a strike; the loss of two days of pay for each striking teacher, each day of an illegal strike; and the striking teachers union forfeiting its dues check-off privilege for one year.


“Saucon Valley School District, in my legislative district, has seen two strikes in the last three years,” said Simmons.  “This has put thousands of children out of school, leaving working parents scrambling to supervise their kids.  This is wrong.”


“Article 3, Section 14 of our state Constitution says that ‘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.’  I believe that teacher strikes violate our state Constitution,” Simmons said. 


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.”

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. 


State Representative Justin Simmons

131st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Andy Briggs