Maybe it’s the difficult economy and hardships many are feeling, but there seems to be a growing backlash against teachers who want big pay raises and small contributions to health care — a salary package that nobody else seems to be getting.

“I make a third of what they do and I pay what they do a year for a family plan, and I pay more than that a month,” says Tara Nowak of Bethel Park.

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Some parents have taken to the picket line against teachers and school boards are getting an earful.

“It’s only prudent that the people that work for us and you as taxpayers get in line with what the residents in the area have,” Bryan Morrow of Moon told his school directors on Monday night.

But many school districts are still handing out 3 to 4 percent annual salary increases that are out-of-line with the real private sector world, say local economists.

“Wages are roughly flat and what we are seeing in Pittsburgh reflects the national trend,” says Prof. Robert Miller of CMU’s Tepper School of Business. “So of course, some people do get wage increases. Other people lose their jobs. On average – not a lot of movement.”

If you’re among the lucky with a job, you probably haven’t had much of a salary boost recently.

“Thirty-three percent of employers are expecting to have wage freezes,” notes Prof. Elaine Luther of Point Park University’s School of Business.

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In 2008, wages jumped 3.6 percent, but last year that increase dropped to 1.9 percent. This year, the increase was around 2.2 percent.

Another sore point with taxpayers: teachers’ unwillingness to pay as much as most do for health care.

“Health care costs are going up, and everybody is going to have to contribute,” says Prof. Luther.

Teachers unions say it’s easy to bash teachers.

The good ones really do work hard and deserve pay raises just like anyone in the private sector.

But local taxpayers who foot the bill are questioning why teachers seem to be treated better than private sector employees.

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That’s a question that only school board directors can answer.