Wednesday, February 1, 2017

PA: Gutting Teacher Sick Leave

In Pennsylvania, while folks were busy working to head off the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, the State Senate's education committee was passing a bill to strip sick and bereavement leave from teachers (as well as sabbatical leave).

SB 229 is a re-introduction of SB 584 from the previous session. It would end the state requirement for a minimum number of sick and bereavement days to be given to each teacher. All such days would become subject to local contract negotiation, which means a local district could provide down to and including zero sick days or zero bereavement days or neither or both. The requirement to allow sabbaticals would be stricken entirely.

The bill won approval of the committee by a 7-5 vote on Tuesday

The sponsor of the bill is Senator John H. Eichelberger, an insurance broker who represents-- well, the only way to explain his district is to show the map.

That's our Senate District 30.

Ain't no gerrymander like a Pennsylvania gerrymander

Eichelberger is a Republican upstart who was swept into office on the wave of voter anger over the infamous late-night pay raise of 2005. He was supported by an assortment of conservatives including Pat Toomey.

GOP legislators propose the bill in order to push fairness and flexibility.

See, the flexibility would allow-- well, there's only one sort of flexibility that could be involved, because districts can already negotiate or simply give sick and bereavement days over and above those required by the state. So the only flexibility we could really be talking about is the flexibility to give teachers fewer sick days and/or fewer bereavement days. Because if there's one problem we have in schools, it's teachers who have too many dead relatives and who spend too much time feeling sad about it. Just toss Grandma in the ground after supper and get back to school the next day. Be less sick.

Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin County, thinks this is a benefit for teachers. "It gives them the opportunity to negotiate these costs ... and allow for benefits that are more meaningful in other areas." Which again can only mean giving up sick days in order to get something else. Want better health care or more pay? Then negotiate away your ability to get sick or grieve a family member. Yes, the flexibility to get less is clearly a benefit for teachers.

But Eichelberger also sees a fairness issue. And by "fairness," he means that old favorite argument-- somebody else doesn't get this so teachers shouldn't, either. This is part of the great American Worker Race to the Bottom in which all non-wealthy folks are supposed to be losing and teachers are supposed to be leading the pack.  And the only flexibility that matters is the flexibility of employers to provide employees with less and less and less.

No, call it what you like-- this is a move to strip teachers of sick and bereavement leave. Oh, yeah-- and no more sabbaticals, ever.

Meanwhile, throughout the US, legislators remained too busy praising the importance of family and The Children to do anything about our standing as the country with literally the worst maternity leave policies in the world. 


  1. !!!
    You have to negotiate bereavement! OMG! So, we will give up bereavemnt days for a lower portion of healthcare? Or for fewer in service days prior to the opening of school? Or three minutes per day on the clock? That sucks.

  2. NM made it so if a teacher uses more than 3 days of ANY kind of leave it will hurt their eval. These guys definitely go to the same bill writing class. . . Run by ALEC?

  3. The government says you are only allowed to be sick July-mid August and your family must only die July-early August. And so be it!!!

  4. How insulting. And dangerous, as teachers will be strongly tempted to come to school sick.

    1. I already have to come to school sick, because our sick leave bank makes you wait 30 days to use it!

  5. If I ruled the world - these legislators would get everything they have given me back! I think they would have trouble sitting and walking for years.

  6. Teachers go in sick and cough on the kids. Parents will get your sick days back.

  7. The thought of this is just insane. It is so dangerous for both teachers and students to go to school when major illnesses are contagious. Not only that we get snotted on, puked on and coughed on daily yet we aren't permitted to get sick?? Pathetic!

  8. These men have nothing but contempt for teachers. "Flexibility" means it's ok to treat teachers & school employees like indentured servants.

  9. Any word on when this being voted on in the Senate? Who is for? Against?
    Thank you!