PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Leaders from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers are talking after the union reached a tentative contract agreement with the School District of Philadelphia. Teachers had been without a union contract since August.
“The good news is that we have a tentative agreement,” Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said.
Philadelphia teachers will receive a 2% retroactive wage increase as part of a tentatively agreed upon a one-year contract extension with the school district, according to Jordan.
“With 89% of members voting in favor of the agreement,” Jordan said.
Since the start of the school year, all of the over 20,000 students in the district have been learning virtually.
A new health and safety plan that was agreed to separate from the contract is now expected to impact the plan to have some teachers and students return back to school buildings beginning Nov. 9.
“The district has said that they have ordered all of the necessary things such as the PPE items, the sanitizer and so forth, so I don’t think that should pose a problem at all,” Jordan said.
That is not to say that a rise in COVID-19 cases could not rerail reopening plans.
“We are not going to sit by silently and allow children and staff to go into buildings that are not safe for them because this virus is deadly,” Jordan said.
The tentative agreement puts teachers on par with other slight wage increases negotiated by police and firefighter unions.
“There have been parents who push back and say I’m frustrated my kids are at home,” Jordan said.
Eyewitness News asked Jordan about the divisive public sentiment that has emerged regarding virtual learning as part of the pandemic.
“I will say that our teachers are working, and other employees, are working harder this year than they have ever worked,” Jordan said.
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