The city teachers' union is balking at a school district proposal that teachers and other school employees work longer days starting this fall.
"My members were very clear in that they said to us: Not one more minute. They believe - and I believe as well - that a longer day is not necessarily a better day for children," said Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, during an interview last night.
During a general-membership meeting at Temple University's Liacouras Center, Jordan updated his members about progress in contract talks between the union and the district.
The talks, which began in February, are geared toward the creation of a contract to replace the one that expires Aug. 31.
Jordan said the district wants his members to work between 15 to 30 extra minutes per day, depending on their job classification.
Because many school buildings are old and lack air conditioning and properly functioning boilers, Jordan said, teachers do not want to stay longer than they have to.
Furthermore, he said, if the extra time is not spent on subjects that students currently get too little of, such as art and music, the kids will likely tune out.
"We don't comment on labor negotiations," Fernando Gallard, a district spokesman, said last night.
Jordan said the district has yet to make any proposals regarding raises or benefits for his 16,000 members, who also include school secretaries, classroom aides, bus attendants, nurses and librarians.
"The members were concerned about that," Jordan said. What does it mean?"
Last month, the district's governing School Reform Commission approved a $2.3 billion operating budget for 2008-09 that did not include raises for any employees.*