Philadelphia Teachers to Get Raises After Four Years Without a Contract
Last night, after four years of negotiations, public school teachers in Philadelphia voted to approve a contract with the district.
The three-year deal is worth $395 million, and means more than 11,000 teachers whose wages have been frozen for years will get raises, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Ninety-five percent of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers members who voted endorsed the contract. "We are really, really pleased about the agreement," said Jerry Jordan, the union's president, according to the Inquirer.
But the contract's price tag is $245 million more than the district has budgeted. "A source close to the negotiations has said that the deal could mean teacher layoffs down the road," the Inquirer reports. "Republicans who control both legislative chambers in Harrisburg threw cold water on any expectation that the state would send Philadelphia more money to help it pay for the contract."
When asked about the potential budget shortfall, Jordan said, "The school district has never ever been able to have enough money on hand to fund any contract. ... I certainly negotiated a contract recognizing the fiscal constraints the school district has, but members who work deserve to earn a living wage."
Under the deal, which is expected to be approved by the School Reform Commission today, union members will receive retroactive pay and salary increases. The union did make some concessions, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook explains. Teachers will now have to contribute to their health insurance, and principals will be allowed to hire teachers without considering seniority.
Previously, half of teaching positions were filled by a school-based committee. For the other half, teachers could choose their own schools based on seniority. All positions will be site-selected under the new contract.
This post was updated with comments from PFT President Jerry Jordan.
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