In a surprise move, Philadelphia School District principals and other administrators Wednesday night held off voting on a proposed four-year contract pact that calls for a 3 percent bonus, some salary increases, and no increase in health-care costs.
Members of Teamsters Local 502 of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators said they needed more time and information before they could vote on the tentative agreement that was reached last week with the district.
President Robert McGrogan said that during an evening membership meeting at Samuel Fels High School in the Northeast, members pressed for more details about the proposed salary schedules and said they needed that information before they could make an informed decision and vote.
No new meeting date was set immediately.
The School District on Wednesday night issued a statement that read: "We respect the CASA ratification process and will provide CASA with any additional information their members may need to review before voting."
When a tentative agreement was announced last Wednesday, McGrogan had promised the more than 480 members in his union that the proposed terms would be "far better" than those in the contract approved in 2014, when the district was in a financial crisis.
At that time, when there were concerns that schools might not open on time, members agreed to steep pay cuts and other concessions.
McGrogan said that while the new proposed contract would not solve all the problems facing administrators, the terms would move the schools in the right direction and retain and attract talented educators.
The proposed contract, which would replace one that expires Aug. 31, would run until the end of August 2020.
The compensation package would include a combination of bonuses, step raises based on years of service, and increases in base pay.
McGrogan said the amount of the increases would vary, depending on current salary schedules. Apart from administrators who are at the maximum level on the scale, a 1.5 percent increase would take effect Aug. 31.
The proposal also calls for CASA members who stay with the district in the fall to receive a 3 percent cash bonus, with a guaranteed minimum of at least $1,500.
Two years ago, CASA members agreed to begin paying 7 percent of the cost of health-care coverage in the first year, and 8 percent during the second.
The move was controversial because most members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers do not contribute toward their health-care plans.
Under the new CASA proposal, McGrogan said the costs associated with the medical coverage would "remain unchanged for the life of the contract" - except for employees who earn less than $50,000. Those staffers' contributions would decline to 5 percent for the four years.
The measure also would give CASA members the option of selecting another medical plan in the second through fourth years that would have higher deductibles and no contributions.
Because the union represents staffers in a wide range of positions, McGrogan said it was not possible to give an average salary for his members. CASA, he said, includes employees who perform a mixture of clerical and administrative duties and earn $33,000 a year. His unit also extends to principals who are paid $150,000 annually to work 12 months at district turnaround schools known as Promise Academies. He said only about 10 people are in the latter category.
And, although the last contract set most CASA members' annual work schedules at 10 months, the proposed agreement would make principals and assistant principals 11-month employees in the second year.
At a City Council hearing on the district's budget last month, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said the district was determined to reach new contracts this year with CASA, as well as the union that represents blue-collar workers and the PFT. The PFT contract expired in 2013.