The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has filed its legal response to the School Reform Commission's move to cancel its contract, challenging the district's move on several fronts.

"We feel the SRC's attack last week was not only cowardly and disrespectful, but lacking legal merit," PFT President Jerry Jordan said in a statement.

The action comes the morning after 3,000 PFT members and supporters shut down North Broad Street in a rally protesting the SRC's actions.

The PFT countered the SRC's filing for declaratory judgment with Commonwealth Court by saying the matter belongs not in that court, but by the Court of Common Pleas, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board or a labor arbiter.

The teachers' union is also seeking to have the state Department of Education dismissed as a party to the dispute. The education department joined the SRC in its legal move to affirm the contract cancellation.

It also hopes to win a preliminary injunction to halt the district from making any health care changes. The PFT's 11,200 employees have been directed to sign up for new health insurance plans for which they must pay between $28 (for a single employee earning under $25,000 a year who opts for basic coverage) and $678 a month (for an employee earning over $55,000 annually who needs family coverage, buys a more expensive plan and pays a surcharge for not taking a spouse's insurance.)

The district has said it needs the PFT to begin paying toward benefits to save $54 million annually. Teachers had previously not contributed toward their health insurance.

The PFT also filed a labor grievance challenging the SRC's move and bad-faith bargaining charges with the state Labor Relations Board.

"The PFT never wants to settle a contract this way, but the SRC is giving us no choice," Jordan said in the statement. "They abandoned negotiation in favor of litigation; we are responding forcefully that the Courts are no place for this dispute. We're hoping for a quick resolution that brings this matter where it belongs—back to the bargaining table."