Ruling made in Philadelphia teacher contract dispute

Thursday, January 22, 2015
VIDEO: Ruling made in Philadelphia teacher contract dispute
The Philadelphia Teachers' Union is celebrating what it calls a victory.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia teacher's union is celebrating what it calls a victory.

The School Reform Commission canceled the teachers' contract back in October, and today a commonwealth court ruled the SRC didn't have the authority to make that move.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan is hailing the legal victory over the Philadelphia School District.

"I read it as a victory for Philadelphia's children, as well as the members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers," he said.

In a more than 40 page ruling the commonwealth court said the district had no legal right to scuttle terms of the union's old expired contract and impose their own new terms.

The School Reform Commission made that move in October after two years of contract negotiations remained stalled.

The school district imposed health benefit changes, they claim would have saved more than $50 million that could be poured into the classroom.

Jordan says, "It was absolutely improper for the School Reform Commission to cancel the PFT contract, instead of coming back to the negotiating table."

The school district says there will be no immediate impact on this year's second semester programs. But the loss of savings they'd planned on for the fall could be in trouble, including the possibility of another round of layoffs of teachers, counselors, nurses and so forth.

School district spokesman Fernando Gallard tells us, "The disappointment is about us not having the flexibility to be able to put more resources into schools upcoming in the next year."

So far, no new face-to-face contract negotiations have been scheduled.