There’s no deal yet between the Philadelphia School District and its teachers union, but the negotiators have made “significant progress” and will stay at the table, union leaders said Monday night.
“Negotiations have been fruitful in securing critical COVID-related protections for children and educators, and we are also making gains on the topic of wages,” Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan said in a statement. “Because of this progress and our desire to move expeditiously toward settlement, I am continuing to negotiate.”
The teachers' contract expired Aug. 31. The union’s 13,000 members had authorized Jordan to keep negotiating through Monday.
Jordan said he would call teachers together for a membership meeting shortly; at that meeting, “I will either bring my members a tentative agreement to review, or alternatively I will present them with options for next steps.”
Asked about the tenor of PFT contract negotiations late last week, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said he was “optimistic that we will get to an agreement.”
For the first time in decades, the PFT has the option to strike. When the district was under state takeover, teachers were forbidden from striking.
Jordan had previously accused the district of trying to “shake down” teachers, tying raises to the PFT’s agreeing to a school reopening plan.
Philadelphia’s 125,000 students began the school year with remote instruction only, and will continue learning from home at least through November. District officials have said they’re eager to get teachers and children back in classrooms if health conditions permit, but teachers are wary, given the school system’s track record with building conditions.
The union represents district teachers, who are paid between $45,360 and $91,852, plus counselors, nurses, secretaries, and other school-based workers.