Teachers’ Union Head Rejects District’s $100M Contract Offer

School District of Philadelphia teachers have been without a contract for more than three years. The sides remain far apart.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has reportedly rejected a $100 million contract offer from the School District of Philadelphia.

The Inquirer reports that PFT president Jerry Jordan won’t take the contract to his membership. The PFT says the deal doesn’t include retroactive pay or cost-of-living adjustments. Philadelphia teachers have been without a contract since August 2013 — a total of 1,187 days.

As a result of not having a contract, district teachers have not received raises in four years. The contract offer, per the report, would not retroactively move teachers up in “steps” that guarantee teachers higher pay. It would not give teachers increases for earning advanced degrees — instead using $32 million in bonus pay to help fill positions at difficult-to-staff schools.

In October 2014, the district attempted to cancel the teachers’ contract. But in August of this year, the state Supreme Court ruled that the district could not unilaterally cancel the contract. At the time, PFT president Jerry Jordan said he hoped the ruling would lead to new contract talks with the district. The two sides still seem far apart on a contract.

The district is in a bind with respect to school funding. President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, is a staunch proponent of school vouchers and charter schools. A top advisor on the Trump transition team has railed against labor unions. Earlier this year, an audit of the district found a $500 million structural deficit.

“Anytime borrowing has to occur to meet operational needs, serious concerns are raised about the long-term viability of a district,” the report said. “The District’s current operations business model should be re-examined because the existing level of funding is insufficient to meet the District’s operational needs and ultimately may impact the District’s ability to achieve its essential mission of educating students.”

Jordan told the Inquirer that the union had submitted a counter-offer to the district’s contract. “This doesn’t offer any incentive for teachers to stay in the city of Philadelphia,” Jordan told the paper. “It really is disappointing and shows that they don’t really care about the teachers.”

Both the PFT and the School District of Philadelphia did not immediately return a request for comment from Philadelphia magazine.