York City teachers' reluctance to accept a wage freeze and other concessions is somewhat understandable.
The union did, after all, agree to a freeze last year to help with a then-$25 million deficit, and the district still had to lay off around 140 staff members.
Class sizes grew, programs were cut and property owners were hit with a 5.21 percent tax increase.
But the York City School District scraped by.
And yet here we are again, in the same -- if not worse -- situation.
The district, scrambling to fill a $19 million hole in its 2012-13 budget, again is proposing sweeping program cuts and layoffs, as well as a plan to close the two middle schools and move to a kindergarten-through-eighth grade model.
These are in addition to an anticipated 17 percent property tax increase that puts barely a dent in the deficit.
Adding insult to injury for the teachers is this: Full-day kindergarten -- which they saved last year by accepting a wage freeze -- is one of the programs now on the chopping block.
Teachers are naturally hesitant to sign up for another round of concessions when the outcome is uncertain, according to Kim Schwarz, president of the York City Education Association.
"It's a trust thing," she said, suggesting the teachers don't "trust" they won't be in the exact same boat next year even if they accept the concessions.
The union this week rejected all but one of the items on the district's laundry list of proposals -- another wage freeze, increased contributions for health insurance, cutting six paid days from the contract, cutting pay for stipend positions (such as tutors and coaches), and using a new teacher evaluation model next year.
Teachers did agree to eliminate two union positions at the district's concession stand.
Clearly, the two sides are not on the same page.
Schwarz said the union understands the district's dire financial situation -- and it doesn't blame the administration. It faults the state and Gov. Tom Corbett for slashing education funding.
That's all well and good, and the administration surely agrees with that assessment.
But don't expect Corbett and the GOP-controlled Legislature to reverse course because of stinging criticism from the York City School District. They've shown how little they care, and pointing fingers their way isn't likely to change their minds.
Schwarz says the union hasn't closed the door to dialogue with the administration, and that's encouraging.
But the teachers would be wise to rethink their approach.
No one expects the union to accept every concession the district requests. However, offering to cut two union jobs from the snack stand indicates they either don't grasp the magnitude of the problem or don't care to be part of the solution.
It's going to be painful for everyone involved -- students, staff and taxpayers -- whether the teachers choose to participate or not.
With a bit of compromise, they could, however, help control the inevitable damage.