Scranton, PA – Dozens of school district workers rallied in support of Governor Tom Wolf’s budget this afternoon outside the Scranton School Administration Building. The workers are custodians, skilled trade workers, LPNs, and clericals. With school slated to open in a month and a budget stalemate in its (6th) week, workers along with parents are concerned about the education of our children.
Governor Wolf’s budget calls for the Scranton district alone to receive more than $3 million dollars, while the Republican backed budget only allots for $82,000.
School district workers have seen the implication of four years of budget cuts. They are demanding a budget that restores funding. Governor Wolf and most residents support increasing funding by passing a fair severance tax on natural gas drillers, but Republican lawmakers have refused, choosing instead to side with special interests in the oil and gas industry.
“If the Republicans have their way and their budget passes, it means cuts, more cuts following four years of unnecessary cuts that have already damaged our schools and hurt our children. Workers will suffer too, everyone from management to maintenance, with workers not knowing if they will even have a job to maintain their livelihood,” said Paul Novajosky, President of the Scranton Chapter SEIU District 1201.
Many of the workers participating in today’s rally are members of SEIU who have been with the District for decades, providing a safe and secure environment for students. They have been working without a contract since December 2014 with very little progress in their contract negotiations. With a new school year starting, workers are uncertain what the future holds for them.
With 145,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 22,000 in Pennsylvania, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.