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News & Current Events Discuss Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under contr at the General Forum; Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under control October 7, 2014 PHILADELPHIA – There will be ...

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Old 10-07-2014, 07:44 PM
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Default Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under contr

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Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under control
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October 7, 2014

PHILADELPHIA – There will be howls of pain and protest coming from the Philadelphia school district this week, and probably into the foreseeable future.

That’s because, after nearly two years of fruitless negotiations with the local teachers union, the city’s School Reform Commission, which runs the school district, announced Monday that it was terminating its collective bargaining agreement with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Actually, the contract expired on August 31, 2013, but the district has been honoring its terms until a new agreement could be negotiated.

The move is being made so the district can come up with desperately needed revenue to remain afloat and maintain student programs, according to the city’s ABC television affiliate. The Philadelphia school district has been facing deficits in the neighborhood of $300 million in recent years, and has already been forced to cut its budget to the bone.

For everything but labor costs, that is. The city’s unionized teachers have continued to earn nice salaries, and extravagant perks, due to provisions in their collective bargaining agreement.

Now the School Reform Commission is putting its foot down.

The district’s main argument with the union involves health insurance costs. Philadelphia is one of only two school districts in Pennsylvania that has not required teachers to pay a portion of their health insurance premiums in recent years.

By cancelling its acceptance of the terms of the expired contract (which the Reform Commission was given the authority to do through special state legislation), the district will be free to impose its own health insurance terms on the teachers.

That means teachers will be required to pay between 10 and 13 percent of their own insurance premiums, which will range in cost from about $27 to $71 per paycheck, depending on how much individual teachers earn, the ABC news report said.

That percentage is pretty much in line with what most teachers across the nation currently pay toward insurance premiums. And the money saved – an estimated $54 million this year and $70 million per year in the future – will probably go a long way toward helping the district maintain some semblance of an instructional program for students.

The school district will also receive hundreds of millions in revenue from a recent increase in the city’s cigarette tax.

Officials from the teachers union immediately responded to the cancellation of the labor agreement by calling it “outrageous.” But that term could easily be applied to the huge labor costs the school district has been paying out in recent years.

In 2010-11, for example, the school district spent a whopping $133 million and some change on health insurance for employees represented by the teachers union. The employees did contribute something that year – a combined $132,000 – which covered less than one percent of the cost.

Other labor costs resulting from union contract provisions have also been extremely expensive for the district. For instance, in 2010-11 the district spent $14.4 million on a three percent general raise for all teachers, plus $16.8 million for the automatic, annual step raises received by all teachers, regardless of performance.

The district paid out $36.2 million the same year in “severance pay” to teachers leaving the district due to resignation, retirement or even termination. It paid a collective $1.4 million to various teachers for “lost preparation time.” It paid $5.2 million toward a “wage continuation plan” for sick or injured employees who had exhausted their paid sick time. It paid out $519,000 to teachers who had attained Level 1 or 2 teaching certificates.

The school district even paid $2.3 million in 2010-11 to help cover employees’ personal legal costs!

Ironically, at the end of the 2010-11 school year, the district was forced to lay off approximately 3,800 employees, including roughly 2,000 teachers. The teachers who lost their jobs were low-seniority, of course. The collective bargaining agreement did not allow layoffs to be based on any type of measured competence.

So in 2010-11, veteran Philadelphia teachers made out pretty well, but their handsome benefit package helped force the district into massive layoffs that shortchanged students.

Labor costs have not been the only problem in this money pit of a school district.

In 2012-13 the Philly district had a breathtaking 395 employees – all at the administrative level – making more than $100,000 per year in straight salary. All of their salaries combined added up to more than $51.7 million that year.

All of that money has been flying out the windows of a school district that had to have the city borrow $50 million on its behalf in August 2013 so classes could begin on time.

Most sane people would say its high time the School Reform Commission took some tough steps to control labor costs and reinvest the savings in student services. There’s a lot more that could be done in that regard, but at least it’s a start.

The School Reform Commission has put the needs of students first, for the first time in a long time. It’s hard to see how anyone but the most zealous of union activists could criticize the move.

Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under control - EAGnews.org

Another School District finally takes the blinders off.
GOOD!
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Old 10-07-2014, 08:31 PM
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Default Re: Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under c

Another blow to education. We should pay our elementary school teachers what congress gets paid and visa versa.
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Old 10-07-2014, 08:38 PM
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Default Re: Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under c

I'm sure they can find cuts at the top to fund a new contract….

Offer some buy outs with a caveat that there will be budget cuts after a dead line….


That's how to trim management, including unions….
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Old 10-07-2014, 08:41 PM
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Default Re: Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under c

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I'm sure they can find cuts at the top to fund a new contract….

Offer some buy outs with a caveat that there will be budget cuts after a dead line….

….
That's what I was thinking
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Old 10-07-2014, 08:56 PM
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Default Re: Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under c

I've been in a union for 24 years and have been through two chapter 11's….

When the company goes to the judge to say they can't pay the bills, the judge will ask for a new program with job reductions, along with pay cuts…

The company will have to show a plan for future growth or the next step will end with chapter 7…

State union contracts are a little different but the basics still apply….

Getting the teachers union, or the other unions, police and fire departments to understand costs at hand with the available funds is a huge task….

There will be a tipping point if fiscal responsibility is not eventually addressed...
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Old 10-07-2014, 09:14 PM
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Default Re: Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under c

I guess Pennsylvania had great union contracts before we sold our steel industry down the yellow river.
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Old 10-07-2014, 09:52 PM
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Default Re: Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under c

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I guess Pennsylvania had great union contracts before we sold our steel industry down the yellow river.
You mean before the EPA shut it down? No way today the EPA woud let the steel industry back into our country. The EPA regulations would stop it cold. Only a morron would even try...

Regards, Kirk
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Old 10-07-2014, 09:57 PM
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Default Re: Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under c

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You mean before the EPA shut it down? No way today the EPA woud let the steel industry back into our country. The EPA regulations would stop it cold. Only a morron would even try...

Regards, Kirk
I read recently (only confirmed what we knew went on at the time) many congressmen were involved in enticing companies to move to foreign countries. These were both Democrats and Republicans who had been lobbied by special interests.
The EPA is a joke in the NW. Polluters pay them off regularly. But when enough inspectors and staff is not hired to keep up with the population (and a crappy census is done as it was in the 80s) that's what happens.
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Old 10-07-2014, 11:46 PM
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Default Re: Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under c

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You mean before the EPA shut it down? No way today the EPA woud let the steel industry back into our country. The EPA regulations would stop it cold. Only a morron would even try...

Regards, Kirk


Lovely huh? What kind of life can you have with that?
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Old 10-08-2014, 12:12 AM
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Default Re: Philadelphia school district ditches teachers union contract to get costs under c

Wish they would start doing that to school costs up here. Just paid another 3.5% increase in school taxes.
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