Friday, August 19, 2016

Green ramps up attack on teachers' union, and Jordan fires back

Green ramps up attack on teachers' union, and Jordan fires back:

Green ramps up attack on teachers' union, and Jordan fires back

School Reform Commissioner Bill Green is ramping up his rhetoric against the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, accusing the union of stalling on any contract settlement until the turnover in School Reform Commission membership that's expected in January.
Green, a longtime PFT critic, said the District has offered a reasonable financial package to the teachers that would result in “net raises,” even after restructuring medical benefits so that members contribute toward their health-care costs, which most do not do now.
PFT president Jerry Jordan immediately shot back, accusing Green of “trash talking” and disputing his point that the District is offering his members a financial deal that the union leadership could accept in good conscience.
“We put fair raises on the table,” Green said. “Nobody would disagree that members of the PFT should contribute to health care, like everybody else in America, including all the surrounding teachers' unions in the suburbs.
“Let’s just face reality,” he added, “it’s not the District that is not bargaining in good faith, it’s the PFT simply trying to wait for a change in membership on the SRC.”
The terms of three of the five members – Chair Marjorie Neff, Sylvia Simms, and Feather  Houstoun – are due to expire in January. Their replacements will be appointed by Mayor Kenney and Gov. Wolf, both Democrats who were strongly supported by the PFT in their election campaigns.
Green spoke out during an interview the morning after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the SRC could not unilaterally cut back medical benefits and divert savings into school personnel and programming, which it tried to do in October 2014. Green said he was “disappointed” in the ruling, which relied on a narrow definition of what state law means by a “teacher's contract.”  
Both Green and Jordan said that the last negotiations took place in June, but otherwise they disagreed on everything regarding this unprecedented four-year stalemate. The District and the union, which is prevented by state law from striking, have been unable to reach a settlement since 2012. PFT members have received no raises during that period – not even the so-called “steps” that they are entitled to based on their years of service and degrees attained.
Jordan countered Green’s accusation that the union was stalling with his own theory: that the SRC was holding out in anticipation that the state Supreme Court would support its position that it had the power to impose a contract on the District’s largest union. 
“We heard that the SRC and Green were avoiding a settlement because they were hoping to win the Supreme Court case and not have to negotiate with us,” Jordan said. “So that goes two ways. There are lots of things that people are saying that are rumors and inaccurate information floating out there.”
Evident in the separate interviews was the level of distrust between the District leadership and the union that represents its teachers – the very people expected to carry out its most Green ramps up attack on teachers' union, and Jordan fires back:



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