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Battle for RESPECT far from over

A sports analogy is appropriate regarding PSEA’s RESPECT initiative to increase both the state’s minimum educator salary and the minimum wage.

You may be behind after the first quarter, but it’s a long game.
Although Gov. Tom Wolf supports RESPECT – Raise Educators’ Salaries Provide Economic Certainty Today – and included its measures in his proposed 2019-20 state budget, they did not make it into the final spending plan adopted in June.

“This is not over,’’ said PSEA President Rich Askey. “PSEA is not going away. We’re going to keep fighting to give educators and working families the fair salaries and economic stability they deserve. If anything, we are more determined than ever.’’

Askey added that the RESPECT initiative, which came from a new business item approved by the PSEA House of Delegates last December, would also go a long way to help ease the state’s serious teacher shortage.

“Right now, thousands of educators are struggling to pay student loans and support their families,” Askey said. “They take on second and third jobs just to make ends meet. Paying them fairly will help ease their financial struggles so they can focus on their students. And it will empower struggling urban and rural school districts to attract and retain the best and brightest to teach our students.”

“The governor’s minimum wage plan will lift wages for the professionals who work with our students to improve their reading skills, cook and serve their lunches, greet them when they arrive at school each morning, and maintain safe, healthy, and clean buildings,” Askey said. “We didn’t succeed in the first round, but increasing the minimum educator salary and the minimum wage remain top priorities for PSEA.’’