Victory for teachers' union means negotiations are back on
A Commonwealth Court ruled that the School Reform Commission (SRC) lacked the authority to cancel the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' (PFT) contract
Thursday morning in the decision, judges stated that the SRC has no power to cancel its teacher’s contract. “We cannot find that the legislature has provided the means expressly required to pursue the current path chosen by the SRC,” stated the court.
Bill Green, chair of the SRC, said the committee is disappointed with the court’s decision.
“We continue to believe that the SRC had clear statutory authority for its action and was exercising one of the core functions for which it was created: seeking to achieve financial stability for the District amid a crisis of underfunding that prevents our schools from providing basic resources and services to students,” Green said. “We are reviewing the court ruling and will shortly determine next steps that best serve Philadelphia schools and school children.”
Last fall the School Reform Commission voted unanimously to cancel the contract with the PFT in order to rework its health-care provisions. The plan would have cut nearly $45 million from teachers' health care benefits to increase funds for schools.
According to the original proposal, starting Dec. 15, 2014, around 15,000 teachers and staff in Philadelphia schools, who are members of PFT, would see between $21 and $70 less in each bi-weekly paycheck.
Mayor Michael Nutter urged the PFT and the SRC to get back to work and get a contract done. “They need to get back to the bargaining table immediately and do the work needed to reach agreement on a contract that provides for the changes needed to educate better our children and that also respects the teachers in their work. We need to move forward, get a contract done and educate our children,” Nutter said.
Today charter school teachers and staff from two ASPIRA charter schools will deliver petitions to Alfredo Calderon, ASPIRA’s chief executive officer, demanding that ASPIRA remain neutral in the staff’s union organizing campaign.
Teachers and staff will gather at the nonprofit’s headquarters at 4:30 p.m. where, after brief remarks by teachers, union representatives, community leaders and parents, they will attempt to deliver the petitions to Calderon who, according to the Alliance of Charter Schools Employees, has refused to respect the staff’s right to organize.
“We want to be part of a dialogue with ASPIRA. We've made repeated attempts to do so, but it does not seem like they are interested in listening to the voices of their staff. Teachers and staff have valuable experience and input and are seeking a union so that we can advocate for our students,” said ASPIRA teacher Hanako Franz.