Quantcast
Connect with us

Philadelphia teachers lose health benefits after state officials cancel contract

Published

on

The state panel that oversees Philadelphia’s cash-strapped public schools abruptly canceled a contract with teachers on Monday, despite nearly two years of labor negotiations, and said teachers would have to begin paying for healthcare benefits.

The move, which a labor expert said was likely unprecedented in the United States, would free up $43.8 million for the district this school year. Next year, it is facing a $71 million budget shortfall.

ADVERTISEMENT

The system’s long-running financial woes have become a full-blown crisis over the past couple years, leading to thousands of layoffs, dozens of shuttered buildings and program cuts.

The move will affect the roughly 16,000 members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which represents teachers, assistants, nurses, counselors and others.

“Bringing health benefits in line with those received by other district, city and state employees will drive tens of millions to our classrooms,” the chairman of the School Reform Commission, William Green, said in a statement.

The changes could save nearly $200 million in operating funds and $47 million in federal funds over the next four years, the commission said. Wages, work rules and other economic provisions of the PFT’s bargaining contract were not altered.

ADVERTISEMENT

Most of Philadelphia’s teachers do not pay anything toward their health insurance. The new plan requires them to contribute between $27 and $71 from each bi-weekly paycheck, depending on salary, and goes into effect on Dec. 15.

Tom Juravich, a University of Massachusetts Amherst labor professor, said that canceling a public employee labor contract in such a manner is rare, if unprecedented.

ADVERTISEMENT

“This idea of the state panel just simply canceling the teachers agreement, there is very little precedent in doing that,” he said. “This is violating the whole collective bargaining process.

“This is hard bargaining tough politics. You can’t send a stronger message than this,” Juravich said.

The changes are likely to be challenged in court. PFT’s president, Jerry Jordan, said the union would “pursue every legal recourse we have.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The ability to cancel the existing contract and impose new terms is unique in Pennsylvania to the commission and Philadelphia’s schools, acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said in a statement.

“This is not an expansion of state authority and will not impact collective bargaining agreements in other school districts,” she said.

Teachers, many of whom have seen their classroom support slashed and have paid for supplies out of their own pockets, have been working under their old contract, which expired in August 2013.

ADVERTISEMENT

The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said the move was an “ambush” by Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who is fighting an uphill battle for re-election in November.

Corbett said in a statement that it was time for Philadelphia teachers to “join the thousands of public school employees across the state who already contribute to their health care costs.”

St. Louis labor lawyer Corey Franklin said that the sudden change was “likely a function of limited health insurance options available to the district upon its annual open enrollment.”

ADVERTISEMENT

(Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York; Additional reporting by Daniel Kelley in Philadelphia; Editing by Andre Grenon and Leslie Adler)

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump Twitter-rages at ‘evil propaganda machine’ New York Times

Published

on

President Donald Trump kicked off his Sunday morning by going on a multi-tweet rant about the New York Times where he blamed them for his poor poll numbers and called them "an evil propaganda machine.'

Trump began with, "The Failing New York Times, in one of the most devastating portrayals of bad journalism in history, got caught by a leaker that they are shifting from their Phony Russian Collusion Narrative (the Mueller Report & his testimony were a total disaster), to a Racism Witch Hunt....., " before adding, "'Journalism' has reached a new low in the history of our Country. It is nothing more than an evil propaganda machine for the Democrat Party. The reporting is so false, biased and evil that it has now become a very sick joke...But the public is aware! #CROOKEDJOURNALISM."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump suggests hitting France with 100 percent tariff on wine over dispute with Macron

Published

on

According to a report from Bloomberg, President Donald Trump publicly suggested that he would consider a 100 percent tariff on wines coming from France.

The report states that the president recently made the suggestion as part of his trade war that has crippled American manufacturers and farmers while at the same time hitting American consumers' wallets.

Trump's comments came during a recent Long Island fundraiser and were tied to his unhappiness with President Emmanuel Macron and his tax on multinational technology companies.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Gun found in FedEx package sent from US to China

Published

on

Chinese authorities have found at least one firearm in a FedEx package sent from the US, local police said Sunday, in the latest incident to befall the logistics firm in China.

Police in Fuzhou, eastern Fujian province, said "in recent days" they had received a tip about a package sent to a Fujian-based sporting goods company.

The parcel was sent by a US client and contained at least one firearm, said Jin'an district police through their official Twitter-like Weibo account.

The firearm has been seized and officers are investigating, they added, without specifying the number of weapons in the package.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image