Twin Valley support staff union votes to authorize a strike

Union members present at a recent meeting of The Twin Valley Education Support Personnel Association (TVESPA) voted unanimously to authorize a strike.

Association President, Donald Refford Jr., said the following: “We have now gone years without a raise. Not a dime. Meanwhile, administrators such as Bob Pleis and Rita and Scott Haddock have all taken substantial raises. Combine this with the way our administrators have been treating many employees lately really hurts.”

Hearing Examiner Jack Marino of The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board recently ruled that some Twin Valley School District administrators committed multiple unfair labor practices, including union retaliation and failure to bargain over contract changes.

“Support professionals provide for the well-being of our students. To mistreat them is not only an injustice to their profession, but to the children of the Twin Valley School District,” stated Jessica Sabol, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

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Barry DeWitt, UniServ Representative for the Pennsylvania State Education Association is disappointed in how contract negotiations have gone. “I’ve helped teachers and support staff members negotiate dozens of contracts throughout Berks and Lehigh Counties. Not once have any members I represent felt the need to go on strike. Paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, secretaries, and custodial and maintenance workers are the feet on the ground helping to keep the district safe and up and running. To go this many years without any raise is tough. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. Most members in the TVESPA Union work without any medical or dental benefits. To add insult to injury, the district is trying to roll back benefits even further for the few workers who qualify under the contract to receive them. Most members informed me that they do not want to go on strike, but they will if they must.”

According to information provided by the District, Superintendent Bob Pleis earned a salary of $156,865.26 for the 2014-2015 school year. By the 2017-2018 school year, his salary neared if not surpassed $200,000. District teacher’s aides (often referred to as paraprofessionals) have a starting hourly rate of $10.96 per hour with no medical benefits.