WITH A CENTER CITY ceremony this afternoon to mark the installation of new Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, lay Catholic high-school teachers plan to rally nearby as they continue a strike begun yesterday at the region's 17 archdiocesan high schools.
Rita Schwartz, president of the Association of Catholic Teachers, Local 1776, said that the point of the 1 p.m. rally outside the Archdiocese headquarters, on 17th Street near Race, will be to show the employers "we're not happy."
She and others said that they would not interfere with the bishop's installation at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul.
Both sides said yesterday that talks will resume today at an undisclosed location after the installation ceremony.
Yesterday morning, Schwartz joined about 30 teachers circling with strike signs in front of St. Hubert's Catholic High School for Girls, in Holmesburg, where she started her teaching career. One woman carried a sign blaring, "It's NOT about the money!"
They were among the more than 700 teachers in the five-county region who picketed yesterday in the first strike of archdiocesan teachers since a six-day strike in 2003.
As freshman girls rushed into the school's auditorium on nearby Ditman Street for an orientation held by school administrators and nonunion staff, Jaimie Palandro, 14, gave a thumbs-up when asked about the strike. "Union, yes!" she said.
Christy Bates, a mother of twin freshman girls, said of the strike: "It's disappointing for the girls' first day of school."
Bob Zingle, union representative for the school and a theology teacher, said that a main point of contention centers on seniority rights. Currently, teachers with more seniority at schools that close can "bump" teachers with less seniority at other schools.
Although the Archdiocese wanted to lay off teachers at schools that close because of dwindling enrollment, Theresa Ryan-Szott, chief negotiator and director of secondary-school personnel for the Office of Catholic Education, said yesterday that it agreed in the last negotiating session to keep the traditional "bumping" process in the first year of the three-year contract.
For the second and third years, the Archdiocese is now considering options, including a points system based on factors like seniority and academic credentials.
At Northeast Philly's Archbishop Ryan, the Archdiocese's largest high school with about 1,600 students, about 50 teachers stood outside the school gates on Academy Road yesterday. English teacher Paul Pedlow said he was concerned that new part-time teachers would replace full-time teachers.