New Contract Settles Teacher Unrest In Philadelphia
Members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers overwhelmingly approved a four-year contract last week that increases teacher salaries, extends the school day, and requires the development of a new pay plan.
Union members agreed to the pact by a vote of 3,822 to 641 on Nov. 2, four days after their leaders and school district and city officials pounded out the deal. The negotiations, which began in January, were often contentious and were marked by a brief strike late last month.
"While we didn't get everything we wanted, we do realize it was just short of a miracle to have so quickly gotten a contract," said Barbara Goodman, a spokeswoman for the 21,000-member union. "People were relieved that we had the shortest strike in history and the most effective."
The board of education planned to meet Nov. 3 to vote on the contract, which was expected to receive unanimous aproval.
Teachers had been working under an interim contract imposed by the city on Sept. 28. The old contract expired Aug. 31 and could not be extended under a Pennsylvania law called Act 46. Under that legislation, the state has authority to take over the 208,000-student district, a move that reportedly was under consideration during the strike held the weekend of Oct. 27-30.
The new pact provides employees with a $1,000 salary bonus this school year, a 6 percent raise next school year, and 4 percent raises during the next three school years, said Hal Moss, a spokesman for the union.
Beginning teachers in the district will make $35,962. Educators at the top of the salary schedule will be paid $74,691.
The contract requires teachers to spend an extra 30 minutes a day on instruction, for which teachers will be compensated, Mr. Moss said. District officials had proposed increasing the workday by one hour and did not want to pay teachers for that time.
In addition, the contract mandates the creation of an "enhanced compensation" system, Mr. Moss said. A team made up of union leaders and district officials will work to design a plan to pay teachers according to their specific roles in the district, an approach known as pay for performance.
The new pay program will be pilot-tested next fall and will be voluntary for teachers who are currently employed, Mr. Moss said. Newly hired educators will be required to participate in the program as of March 1 of next year.
In another pilot program, the district also gained more power over selecting teachers for 10 hard-to-staff middle schools.
Vol. 20, Issue 10, Page 3