One Philly SD union has tentative deal for givebacks

The Philadelphia School District and at least one of its unions have agreed to a contract modification that includes givebacks from employees.

Robert McGrogan, head of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators local, said Tuesday that his union and the district recently agreed to terms that would amend the contract in place through August 2012.

McGrogan will present the agreement to his members at an Aug. 3 meeting.  In the meantime, members’ “step increases” — pay raises given to members based on years of service — have been frozen.

No word yet on what give-backs might be included in this contract modification.  McGrogan said he couldn’t discuss the terms until his members voted.

McGrogan said it’s not ideal to start withholding money before members can vote on the agreement, but he said he couldn’t call a meeting during July.

“July is the only period in the calendar that our members who now work 12 months are permitted to take vacation,” said McGrogan, who is on vacation himself. “To hold a meeting during that time would have been insensitive to them.”

If his members reject the deal on Aug. 3, McGrogan said, then they would get retroactive pay for the step increases.

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission, the district’s governing body, had threatened to cancel contracts with CASA and the other district unions if they didn’t come up with $75 million in savings by June 30.  

There were no deals by that date, but SRC Chairman Robert L. Archie Jr. said that the district was having “productive conversations” with unions and so would not cancel the contracts.

CASA and Local 1201, the union representing bus drivers, aides, mechanics, engineers, and cleaners, negotiated with the district, which is facing a massive budget gap.

But neither the school police officers’ union nor the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers — which with 17,000 members is the largest union by far — have sat down with the district.

A Local 1201 spokeswoman said Tuesday that there was no deal yet in place, but that talks are still ongoing.

The district has laid off more than 2,700 workers (including about 1,500 teachers) and cut programs and school budgets to fill a $629 million budget gap.  It now must fill a new $35 million budget gap, and more layoffs are likely.
If the $75 million in union savings isn’t realized, it’s not clear what comes next.

“Both sides are in a very vulnerable state with this,” McGrogan said.

A district spokeswoman confirmed that negotiations with the other unions are ongoing.

An SRC meeting tentatively scheduled for Wednesday (July 20) will not be held, the spokeswoman said.  She had no information about when it might be rescheduled.