Neshaminy School District teachers went on strike last week for the second time in a year and promptly found themselves the target of an ad in a local paper which listed the average Neshaminy striker's pay and benefits at more than $100,000 a year. The $1600 ad was paid for by Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania and put together using data sourced by local taxpayers utilizing a right-to-know request.
The ad "turned the battle" against the teachers, insisted Philadelphia landlord Bob Guzzardi, who blasts pro-conservative messages to a long list of fellow activists. (The teachers said they agreed to return to work, in advance of a court order, "as a sign of good faith" in future talks with the school board.)
The school board have stated that they won't negotiate with the teachers while they're on strike. As reported by Joseph DiStefano writing for Philly.com, Citizens Alliance executive director Leo Knepper said:
"It really defies reason that they thought they should have access to [compensation] from taxpayers who have no hope of making that much,"
Knepper was hired by Citizens Alliance last fall after previously working for a Heritage Foundation affiliated education group.
In the Neshaminy strike, he said, he saw an opportunity to reach a broad public in a politically mixed area while supporting the school board and other elected officials who have resisted labor demands. Now, State Rep. Frank Farry (R., Bucks), a Neshaminy High grad, is among those pushing to ban teacher strikes across the commonwealth.
"We're focusing on the labor problems we have in Pennsylvania," Knepper told me. "We want to make Pennsylvania a more business-friendly environment."
The Neshaminy Federation of Teaches has 633 members who work at 13 schools in the district. The two NFT strikes have so far caused the cancellation of 15 days of classes at the schools and a âwork-to-contract' action that obviously affected preschool and afterschool services. They have been working without a raise in the last four years but the school board says the current contract is already unaffordable. The school year will be extended to June 27 for most students and negotiations between the NFT and the district are set to continue from the end of June through all of July.
Citizens Alliance was founded in 2009 by ex-state Rep. John Kennedy. They are based in Lemoyne.