Another union has a deal with the Philadelphia School District.
The members of Unite Here Local 634, which represents school cafeteria workers and noontime aides, has ratified a four-year contract that contains benefits savings and work-rule changes including a weakening of seniority rights.
The workers - the district's lowest-paid - will actually get pay bumps made possible, officials said, by allowing the district to temporarily stop payments to the union's health and welfare fund. Most workers in the union are part-time, earning $10.88 hourly, or about $8,000 annually.
Under the terms of the new contract, by the end of the deal, all will earn what the city considers to be a "21st Century Living Wage," approximately $12.67 hourly.
The deal is significant as the district continues to grapple with the contract of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, its largest union. The district attempted to cancel the teachers' contract last fall, but has struck out so far in court and is awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court. Officials want work rule and benefits changes.
"The willingness of a labor partner whose members include our lowest-compensated staff to make a shared sacrifice on behalf of our students and schools sends a powerful message," Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said in a statement. "I am immensely grateful to the members of Local 634 for this demonstration of their support and dedication to our students and schools."
Nicole Hunt, representing Local 634, said that union officials "are pleased to come to an agreement that will allow the District to save, while bringing our members to the City's 21st Century Living Wage. The students, as always, are our first priority; we remain committed to creating the best school environment for students to learn and grow in."
Local 634 joins the district's principals' union and SEIU 32BJ, which represents blue-collar workers, in reaching new contracts with signficant contract changes.
As a result of the new agreement, seniority will no longer be the only factor governing layoffs and other staffing decisions. Hite has stressed that he needs this flexibility in any teachers' contract, too.
"With this third agreement in hand, we remain focused on achieving results from our other labor negotiations that will similarly benefit our students and schools, and on pressing our local and state funders to commit to equitable and sustainable funding for public education," the superintendent said.