Teachers Union Challenges End to Seniority Rules

Says SRC is asking for "relief from agreements it negotiated.

The Philadelphia Public School Notebook reports that the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to strike down the school district’s recent decision to strike down seniority rules when assigning teachers to schools.

On Thursday, the PFT filed its response to the state Supreme Court, arguing that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the work rule changes and that the issues under dispute should be subject to collective bargaining as they have been in the past. The union’s attorneys argue that the “grievance and arbitration dispute resolution mechanism” established by state labor laws “is the only method for resolving these issues.”

Citing the state takeover law known as Act 46, the School District has claimed the right not to negotiate with the teachers’ union over “non-mandatory” bargaining issues — issues apart from wages, hours, and working conditions.

But the PFT’s legal response emphasizes that the SRC is asking for “relief from the agreements it negotiated over the last 13 years with the Federation while possessing all of the authority conferred on it by Act 46.” It goes on to say that in contract talks, the union and the District are still negotiating over all the disputed issues covered in the District petition and “are not at an impasse on any issue.”

 The Notebook adds that “22 state lawmakers and a league of 14 unions, led by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, and representing over one million members” filed briefs supporting the teachers’ union.