Striking Teachers Want Job Security, Respect

The Association of Catholic Teachers will strike -- effective immediately.

The teacher's union voted 589-60 on Tuesday afternoon to walk off the job. More than 700 catholic high school teachers are set to hit the picket line.

Tuesday morning, the Association’s team walked away from the negotiating table with significant unresolved issues.

Working conditions and money are two of the key issues in negotiations, according to the Office of Catholic Education.

Teachers, however, say that respect and job security is what they're fighting for.

"I think the biggest issue is jobs. No one's safe the way they want to do things," Union President Rita Schwartz says.

In fact, she says that one of the main reasons the teacher's association rejected the diocese proposal is because it does not guarantee a job if their school closes. 

"We are there for the kids, we want to be in the classroom," said teacher Kathy Tucker. "It just feels like the archdiocese is telling the teachers 'you don't do a good enough job.'"

The Union and Archdiocese are also arguing about the hiring of part-time teachers. Archdiocesan leaders say that hiring specialized staff for arts and world language is critical in keeping students competitive.

"We've already instituted Mandarin Chinese," said Dr. Richard McCarron of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. "We need these part time teachers with these specialties to come in and teach these courses."

The Archdiocese says that they’ve made multiple concessions in their proposals and that they believe the offered contract is "equitable."

The Archdiocese's 17 high schools opened for orientation as scheduled on Wednesday. 

Administrators and nonunion employees are overseeing the students. Classes are scheduled to begin in earnest next week.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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