Philadelphia’s principals’ union has a tentative contract agreement.
If members of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, Teamsters Local 502 approve the deal with the Philadelphia School District, they will get salary increases of 11% over four years, and will pay less for their health insurance, Robin Cooper, CASA president, said Friday.
In year one of the contract, principals would get a 2.75% raise and a $1,500 bonus; 3.25% increase and $1,000 bonus in year two; 3% increase in year three, and 2% increase and $1,000 bonus in the final year of the deal.
The pact was finalized Thursday, more than a month after CASA’s last contract expired. The union represents over 800 principals, assistant principals, climate managers, food service supervisors, school safety supervisors, and other workers.
Cooper, who earlier had expressed frustration at the pace of talks, said it was a fair contract in what has been an extremely difficult year — the third school year touched by COVID-19.
“The administrators kept this district moving; if it wasn’t for them, things would have fallen apart” during the pandemic, Cooper said. “We wanted a contract that recognized the fact that they do work hard, and they often do it without expecting much of a thank you. This was about restoring their dignity.”
In addition to the salary bump, principals will also pay less for health insurance — an important point for many members and a sticking point in negotiations, said Cooper.
When the district was struggling financially, principals gave up concessions in wages and health care.
“The district promised to look out for our members once they were financially stable, and to make everybody whole. Each time we went back to the table, it was almost a forgotten promise,” said Cooper. The tentative deal almost fixes that, Cooper said.
The contract will also pay for some in-house professional development for the first time, Cooper said — for retired district principals or for current principals with special expertise to train their peers, a point that was important to the union, which arranged for such training on its own during the pandemic.
“You don’t always need outside vendors to do what can be done right here in the city,” said Cooper.
The contract provides principals with greater flexibility in scheduling vacation time, Cooper said — administrators can now work during winter and spring break, and the district had wanted them limited to five vacation days during the school year, a change that the union scuttled.
It also provides additional pay for extra duties, more life insurance, and more money for uniforms for workers whose jobs require them.
The contract also gives new principals still in their probationary period due process rights if disciplined.
“We appreciate the ongoing commitment and leadership of our school leaders and we are pleased to know that negotiations with CASA have resulted in a contract that honors our amazing leaders and the wonderful work that they do to support students throughout the School District of Philadelphia,” spokesperson Monica Lewis said in a statement.
CASA members will decide whether to ratify the new contract on Oct. 27. If approved, it would be the second major district contract sealed this fall.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers recently signed and approved a three-year contract that gives 13,000 teachers, counselors, school nurses, and other workers 9% raises over the life of the deal.