Possible strike for Catholic school teachers

PHILADELPHIA - September 2, 2011

Teachers say they've been pushed to the brink, and they're ready to cut class if they don't have a new contract by Tuesday.

The Archdiocese's negotiating team says the teachers are being unreasonable.

"I think in a matter of one hour to the next, if we focus on the issues and the good it will bring our students and our schools, we could have an agreement by 7:00 p.m. tonight," said Mary Rochford, Superintendent.

The teachers say they still have issues that haven't been addressed.

"We're still talking about hundreds of issues that are on the table and they've been on there since March," said Rita Schwartz, the President of Local 1776.

Money is an issue, but not the biggest deal breaker. The Archdiocese says the teachers are refusing 21st century fundamentals of education, like individual accountability.

"We could not focus on simple salary and benefits, it's a watershed contract," said Theresa Ryan-Szott, the chief Archdiocese negotiator.

Archdiocese teachers are paid less than public school teachers and they say they are being disrespected.

The Archdiocese argues that it may answer to a higher authority, but they've also got to answer to the families they serve.

"There is urgency because we have a responsible to our parents and our kids to open these schools," said Richard McCarron, the Secretary for Catholic Education.

The Archdiocese says the doors of the high schools will open on schedule next Wednesday with or without the teachers.

However, they're not sure yet how they'll cope if a strike should last more than a week.

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