Principals accept concessions; layoff notices for blue-collar workers

8:05 p.m.:

Even as principals voted to accept concessions and avert layoffs, the district issued more than 800 layoff notices to workers from another union who said no to givebacks.

About 850 members of 32BJ, which represents, transportation, maintenance, and custodial workers, received notice they would be laid off in 12 months.

Earlier, the union voted down an amendment that would have given the district financial concessions.

In a statement, the district said that as a result of 32BJ's rejection, it "is now forced to take other steps to achieve...needed savings, including sending notice to 848 facilities and transportation employees that they will be laid off effective 12 months from now in September 2012 in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement."

District officials said they would discuss alternatives to layoffs.


Philadelphia School District principals just voted to ratify an amended contract that will mean delayed raises - but save 27 jobs.

The vote passed 173 to 64.

The district has said it needs $75 million in concessions from its five labor unions to close a $629 million budget gap.  Last month, the principals rejected concessions.  But last week, the district said it would lay of 27 assistant principals if it didn't get some savings.

Commonwealth Association of School Administrators president Robert McGrogan went back to the bargaining table and came back with a new proposal.  The proposal the principals ended up ratifying was slightly different than the last, rejected one.  The prior proposal included healthcare concessions that would take affect if the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers adopted similar concessions.  Thie adopted amendment does not have the healthcare provision.

The last, rejected proposal fell short by just four votes. 

"As close as we were with the last proposal, a real tipping point was the healthcare-related matters," McGrogan said.

McGrogan told his members that although the district agreed to rescind the 27 layoffs, there's nothing stopping them from laying off in the future.

About 300 members stayed to vote at the meeting, held Thursday night at Franklin Learning Center, a few blocks away from district headquarters.

The principals' vote extends the contract through 2013.

McGrogan said the change in leadership at the district has made a difference in the tenor of negotiations.

"The morning he was appointed, Dr. Nunery called me personally on my cell phone - he dialed himself - to talk to me.  That’s not a small thing," McGrogan said. "I believe that if Dr. Nunery were not in charge, there would have been no invitation to rescind these layoffs."

McGrogan said he was "empathetic to the district's financial situation," but not always supportive of the financial decisions the district has made.