On Friday, October 14th, the School District of Philadelphia announced raises for employees who work at the central office (440 N. Broad Street) while excluding their colleagues who are represented by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
Hundreds of hard-working individuals will receive a well-deserved 2% raise, either now or in July (depending on seniority). But hundreds of equally hard-working employees will not -- because the school district continues to make insufficient offers to the PFT at the bargaining table.
This move suggests that the District is ready to pay up, if only the PFT would agree to their proposed terms for a new contract. But the unfortunate truth is that the District is still shortchanging both its PFT and non-PFT employees.
Here’s the full picture:
As reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer, non-PFT employees at 440 have all been paying directly out of their paychecks for healthcare since 2012, and some since 2010. That raise may, at best, bring them back to their previous income levels.
At the SRC meeting on 10/13, SRC member Bill Green described (unconfirmed) offers made to the PFT in contract negotiations -- a 3% one-time lump sum payment, plus an undisclosed salary step system. These payments hardly put a dent into what has been lost financially by district employees since wages were frozen in 2012.
The Caucus of Working Educators is pleased that the district finds itself on more stable financial footing. When it comes to compensating its employees, the district’s first priority should be honoring the contract that it has disregarded for so many years -- and that the PA Supreme Court has directed the School District to honor.
Choosing to reward those employees outside of this system -- after already saddling them with added expenses -- seeks to divide the working ranks of the school district while playing a zero-sum game.
Philadelphia educators deserve more respect than that. Our entire city deserves a district that honors a contract, and in doing so funds the schools our children deserve.