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Striking Scranton teachers take their case to the Capitol

November 10, 2021 GMT
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman speaks at a rally of the striking Scranton Federation of Teachers at the Pennsylvania Capitol, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Harrisburg, Pa. Fetterman was joined by labor leaders and other Democratic office holders at the rally. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)
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Lt. Gov. John Fetterman speaks at a rally of the striking Scranton Federation of Teachers at the Pennsylvania Capitol, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Harrisburg, Pa. Fetterman was joined by labor leaders and other Democratic office holders at the rally. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)
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Lt. Gov. John Fetterman speaks at a rally of the striking Scranton Federation of Teachers at the Pennsylvania Capitol, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Harrisburg, Pa. Fetterman was joined by labor leaders and other Democratic office holders at the rally. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Striking teachers in the Scranton School District took their case to the state Capitol on Wednesday, holding a rally with labor leaders and Democratic office holders, appealing to Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature for help.

Hundreds of union members and supporters went to the Capitol, a week after the Scranton Federation of Teachers began striking under the terms of a contract that expired in 2017.

Their last pay raise was a year before that.

Democrats and labor leaders appealed to Wolf and lawmakers for relief from the district’s recovery plan, as well as to use federal aid to boost teacher salaries. Some laid blame for the strike on the school-funding policies of the Legislature’s long-standing Republican majorities.

The district’s recovery plan says that any raises for teachers must come from savings elsewhere in the contract. Teachers oppose a health care proposal they say would financially cripple them.

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Patrick Festa, a third-grade teacher, told rallygoers that the district has already suffered cuts, and it now lacks libraries in the schools and band and chorus in the middle school.

The recovery plan is “punitive, mean-spirited and crippling,” Festa said.

The district pulled health insurance coverage from striking employees during the walkout, union officials said.

District solicitor John Audi has said the sides are $13 million apart on a new contract.