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By Stanley Aronowitz
Appointed by the Republican Governor Tom Corbett, the School Reform Commission (SRC) unilaterally canceled the Philadelphia Public Education contract on Monday, October 6th. The agreement covers 15,000 teachers and other staff workers. And SRC announced that it intends to take over the union-controlled benefits program and impose 5%-13% employee contributions instead of its current fee-free features. The union was not notified of the Commission’s move in advance. Its president Jerry Jordan promised to fight and said the union would consider “job actions” if members were ready for them.
Since the financial depression of 2007-2008, public sector unions have been on a seven-year defensive. Many contracts have been negotiated with below-inflation rate salary increases, or none at all. Health and pension benefits almost inevitably require employee contributions, and many programs are diluted. In New York City, the United Federation of Teachers negotiated a nine-year agreement (four of them covering the past years of zero salary raises) that fails to match the actual inflation, although the benefits program remains unchanged.
Philadelphia education workers are not plagued by a Taylor Law prohibiting strikes or job actions, but the Pennsylvania bargaining environment is no less grim. Continue reading Things to Come? The Philadelphia Case
Photo Credit: Kara Newhouse via Flickr
The latest cost-cutting strategy by the cash-strapped Philadelphia School Board strikes a shocking blow to educators in the city. Yesterday, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted unanimously to unilaterally cancel its teachers’ contract, throwing into question what it means to be an employed teacher in Philadelphia.
From “SRC cancels teachers’ contract” by Kristen Graham and Martha Woodall in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The district says it will not cut the wages of 15,000 teachers, counselors, nurses, secretaries and other PFT members. But it plans to dismantle the long-standing Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund, which is controlled by the union, and take over administering benefits.
Going forward, most PFT members will have to pay either 10 percent or 13 percent of the cost of their medical plan, depending on their salaries. They now pay nothing. Officials said that workers would pay between $21 and $70 a month, beginning Dec. 15.
Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, vows that the union will not give up without a fight:
“I am taking nothing off the table,” a clearly angry Jordan said at an afternoon news conference. Job actions could be possible, once he determines what members want to do. “We are not indentured servants.”
Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
This article originally appeared on The Hill.
By Basil Smikle Jr.
A flurry of activity among education reformers across the country exposes a growing bifurcation within its ranks, uncovered by recent challenges to teacher tenure in New York. Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown’s Partnership for Educational Justice, which recently recruited renowned attorneys David Boies and Laurence Tribe, seeks to reform teacher tenure laws, mirroring activities that led to California’s controversial Vergara ruling. But earlier this month, the New York City Parents Union filed suit separately alleging that Brown’s group failed to include scores of minority parents in their complaint. This troubling yet pervasive tableau has bedeviled modern reform movements since their inception: Leadership has remained predominantly white, even though the target populations are overwhelmingly black and Latino. And these battles are contributing to a growing disjunction in education policy and among stakeholders within communities and across cities. Continue reading The growing disjunction in education policy
By Sarah Hughes
Union Semester is underway again! 15 students have joined us from 5 states, 2 countries, and 4 New York City boroughs for an intensive semester-long immersion in the world of worker justice.
Continue reading New York Union Semester Fall 2014
Photo shows Master’s degree alum Bill Cali marching with the Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU.
By Stephanie Luce
Murphy faculty, staff and students were among the over-310,000 people who participated in the People’s Climate March on September 21. Labor unions first gathered for a rally at 57th Street and Broadway before the march began, and union leaders and members spoke about the importance of the march and the issue of climate change.
Many union members were impacted directly or indirectly by Superstorm Sandy, and they are eager for the city to make necessary changes to prevent future storms from having a catastrophic impact. Continue reading Labor and the People’s Climate March
By Stephanie Luce
Ai-jen Poo, the Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Co-Director of Caring Across Generations, was selected for the prestigious 2014 Macarthur “Genius” Fellowship. The Murphy Institute has been a long-time admirer of Ai-jen’s work, including her efforts to help win the passage of the New York State Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in 2010. Last year, Ai-jen was one of six recipients of the Murphy Institute’s Emerging Leaders Award. Ai-jen also serves on the advisory board of the New Labor Forum, and she is the author of the New Labor Forum article, “A Twenty-First Century Organizing Model: Lessons from the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Campaign,” which appeared in February 2011. We are thrilled that the Macarthur committee recognized Ai-jen’s brilliance and the importance of her work. Continue reading Congratulations to Ai-jen Poo!