Philly Teachers Case Goes to Pa. Supreme Court

Can the SRC unilaterally cancel the teachers' contract?

empty classroom

The School Reform Commission and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers will duke it out before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court over whether the SRC has the power to unilaterally make changes to teachers’ benefits.

The case springs from the SRC’s effort last October to cancel the PFT’s contract and require members to pay a portion of their own health care insurance, a measure imposed with bargaining at at impasse. A lower court in January overturned that effort. The appeal has now reached the state’s top court.

At issue: Whether the state’s “Distressed School Law” empowers the SRC to impose terms that can’t otherwise be achieved through collective bargaining.

“When the SRC acted last fall to redirect approximately $200 million to our schools over the following four years, it was exercising the precise function for which it was created: achieving financial stability for the District in a crisis of underfunding that has prevented our schools from providing basic resources and services to students,” district spokesman Fernando Gallard said in a statement released to the media on Wednesday. “In the interim, the urgency of directing additional resources to classrooms has only increased.”

“It really is better to negotiate an agreement as opposed to having one imposed upon you,” PFT president Jerry Jordan told NewsWorks.

No date has been set to hear the case.