Philadelphia district principals not getting promised raises they deferred in 2011

Posted: January 13, 2013

Philadelphia School District principals were promised a raise on Jan. 1, but the cash-strapped district now says it's not paying.

In September 2011, the local chapter of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators agreed to defer for a year the 3 percent pay hike its members were owed. The principals agreed to the concession, union chief Robert McGrogan said at the time, because they understood how bad the district's finances were.

The raise was supposed to show up in next week's paychecks. McGrogan found out Friday afternoon the money's not coming.

" Tarnishing is an understatement for what it has done to their credibility," McGrogan said. "I believe the SRC has no integrity for the collective-bargaining process."

The principals' contract expires in August. The two sides met to talk about opening negotiations earlier this week, and will start talking next month.

The double whammy of a change to Social Security payroll taxes and no raise means that "people's net pay is going to be hundreds of dollars less than they're expecting," McGrogan said. "I don't see their gas bills or their mortgages going down."

In a statement, district officials said they asked the principals' union to forgo the raise, but it refused.

"The School District of Philadelphia is in serious financial distress, as indicated in the five-year financial plan that was issued this past year," spokesman Fernando Gallard said in the statement. "In order to reach fiscal stability as outlined in that five-year plan, we have asked all our employees to contribute to assist the district in meeting its financial challenge."

That financial plan projects a deficit of more than $1 billion over the next five years if corrective action is not taken. It banks on millions in labor concessions to balance the books.

Gallard pointed out that the district's blue-collar workers had already made significant financial concessions, and that non-represented employees took pay cuts, too.

But some nonunion central office employees got pay hikes this year. District officials say it was because most took on extra work or filled new jobs.

McGrogan said that his 600 members already agreed to concessions, and that the district's action expressly violated the document officials signed last year, whose language he included: "The SRC, by ratifying this agreement, irrevocably commits that it will not, during the life of this agreement through Aug. 31, 2013, exercise any statutory authority it may possess to cancel, renegotiate, or otherwise set aside this agreement."

The union will pursue arbitration, McGrogan said.

The district's school police union is in a similar situation. Its members were due a 3 percent raise in June and never saw it, said Michael Lodise, union chief.

"We'll win our case in arbitration very easily, but I'm just worried about getting the money once we win," Lodise said. "This system is in shambles right now."

Under the state takeover law, the SRC has special powers that allow it to cancel contracts in times of fiscal distress.


Contact Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146, kgraham@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @newskag. Read her blog, "Philly School Files," at www.philly.com/schoolfiles.

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