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Article published October 2, 2012
Mars teachers vote to authorize a strike
ADAMS TWP — The teachers in the Mars Area Education Association have voted to authorize a strike. Mark Lewandowski, association negotiator and a Mars School District teacher, revealed the action Tuesday night at the school board meeting. He said an overwhelming number of the 200 teachers on Sept. 26 voted to authorize a strike in the face of stalled contract negotiations with the district. The vote means the union members have given their negotiating committee the power to call a strike. The association and the district have been in negotiations since January. Lewandowski said at Tuesday’s meeting that the two sides have met for negotiations five times since a fact-finder heard arguments from both sides and came up with a report in May. That report was twice approved by the school board and rejected by the union. Had both sides approved the report, it would have become a two-year contract between teachers and the district. He said the teachers last year accepted a one-year pay freeze to help the district deal with financial constraints resulting from less state aid, and the freeze saved the jobs of two teachers. The teachers were in negotiations with the district in 2011 when their contract was to expire on June 30, and accepted a one-year extension of the expired contract. That agreement expired June 30, and the two sides have yet to come to a deal.