Time running out for Phila. archdiocese contract

PHILADELPHIA - September 5, 2011

"It appears as if there is a tremendous amount of stalling and delaying being exhibited on the part of the Association of Catholic Teachers," said Dr. Richard McCarron, the secretary for Catholic education.

Negotiators for the archdiocese say both sides exchanged proposals for a new contract as far back as March 25.

They say it wasn't until Sunday that the teachers' union actually began responding to their proposals.

"For them to address a significant issue for the first time in writing, in September, does not show an effort to resolve this conflict," said Theresa Ryan-Szott, a chief negotiator.

Union officials did not make themselves available Monday but on Saturday, they spoke with Action News.

"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.

The union says the teachers are being disrespected.

"It's treatment of teachers. A lot of this going into it was anti-teachers and anti-union, and maybe it's a sign of the times," said Schwartz.

The archdiocese says the union is refusing 21st century fundamentals of education, like making the curriculum and test scores available online.

"Really it stops us from being able to make those educational decisions that have to be made rather rapidly these days," said Superintendent Mary Rochford.

Over 16,000 students attend the 17 high schools operated by the Archdiocese.

"We have to hold the line. There is a lot at stake here, we have to be able to manage these schools the best way we see fit," said Dr. McCarron.

On the union's website they say they are trying very hard to reach a contract that will be acceptable to them, and that they will have the final say.

They will vote on the proposed contract Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m.

The archdiocese says the doors of their high schools will open on Wednesday, with or without the teachers, but they are not sure how they'll cope if a strike should last more than a week.

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