Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Masters +30 and Senior Career Teacher Salary Upgrades for PFT Members

Fellow PFT members:

Don’t let your salary losses accumulate more than they have to (see this chart compiled by the Caucus of Working Educators). You can move up a lane IMMEDIATELY to Masters +30 and, once you hit your 10-year anniversary, submit your paperwork for Senior Career Teacher.

This will significantly help minimize the amount of money you may have lost during the status quo contract freeze from 2013-17 and help you recoup much of that salary. There is a loophole in our newest Collective Bargaining Agreement - so make sure to take advantage!

You can examine the current Salary Schedule here.
(If you are not sure what salary schedule you are at, you can either multiply BASE pay on your paycheck by 21.7 or click here to go to the District's Open Data and search for your name under Employee Information. All of our salaries are public information.)

You can examine the District's requirements and protocol (both Masters + 30 and Senior Career) for Salary Upgrades here.

Once you have completed enough graduate credits (90 credits above your Bachelors, after having obtained a Masters) for Senior Career then make sure you have dual certification. You can view Teaching Certificates offered in PA here (Note: K-12 Certificates already pre-qualify as dual cert.)

You can register for your Praxis Exam here.

Finally, the following is just a short list of online courses priced under $400 for 3 credits. If you find more, please leave them in the comments section for others to see and so that I can edit this list as time goes on.


  • Andrews, Greenville, and Loyola Marymount through Advancement Courses (3 Graduate credits for $449) Up to 15% discount until July 14th using promo code SUM10 (10% for 1 or 2 courses) or SUM15 (15% for 3+ courses) https://www.advancementcourses.com/
  • Augustana, Colorado St. Pueblo, Lourdes, Marygrove, Pacific Lutheran through Learners Edge (3 Graduate credits for $425) Get $70 off each course until July 30th using promo PHLSDSU1707 (ordering one course) or PHLSDSU1754 (order two or more) http://www.learnersedgeinc.com/

Sunday, April 2, 2017

PFT Contract Letters through PONY

As many of you may recall, the PFT members at Central High School and the Caucus of Working Educators initiated a letter writing campaign in October in order to pressure the SRC and Dr. Hite to get back to the negotiating table.

In light of the recent news that the School District will be getting an additional $65million in recurring funding from reassessed commercial property taxes under the city's Added Value Initiative (AVI), it is vital that the District make whole the members of the PFT who have sacrificed so much by going without a wage adjustment since 2012.

It's time for a contract settlement.

Please print the following letters based on the PFT email campaign, include your own personal sacrifices, then place in an envelope and PONY the message to 440 North Broad.

Let's keep up the pressure and make sure this monetary windfall is put to good use by finally ending this devastating contract stalemate!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Billboard Update: Philly Teachers Deserve a Contract

First of all, a big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to making the billboard a reality.

Here is the new fundraising site, designed to keep the billboard up on Interstate 95 for as long as it takes.

Please donate here: https://chuffed.org/project/philly-teachers-deserve-a-contract

Also, feel free to share the media coverage links and and photos below on social media or otherwise in order to keep up the pressure.

The hardworking members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers deserve a



Saturday, February 11, 2017

Billboard: Philly Teachers Deserve A Contract!

The hardworking members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have gone without a raise for over 5 years while the School District of Philadelphia refuses to negotiate a fair contract for its workforce. Meanwhile, the city and state have neglected their duty to properly fund our schools so that this matter can finally be settled.

As each month passes with no agreement in sight, Philadelphia loses more and more great educators to other surrounding districts. It is the over 100,000 children in the district, however, who suffer the most because of this lack of a stable workforce.

It’s time to call out our city and school officials for allowing this calamity to continue. The fundraiser started this week seeks to place a billboard on I-95 that will publicly shame the School Reform Commission, Superintendent Hite, and Mayor Kenney for their inability to get a fair contract settled.

A GoFundMe page with the explicit purpose of raising the funds has been created to crowdsource donations from teachers and other allies of public school educators.

The fundraiser will be extended on a month to month basis, as we continue to publicly shame the school district and the city, until a fair agreement is finally reached with the PFT.

Enough is enough – our schools, our students and our educators deserve better.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Teachers Rally for Students at Central High School

On a frigid Friday morning, the hardworking members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers at Central High School made it a point to welcome their students as they arrived for a day of studies.

Our pupils were greeted by cheering educators and a large banner as they trekked up the hill at the corner of Olney and Ogontz. The banner, which was signed by nearly 100 staff members, read:

We support our students regardless of
Immigration Status
Country of Origin
Sexual or Gender Identity
Race or Ethnicity
Political Beliefs
We stand together as ONE Central HS!!

Central has long had the honor of being the oldest public school in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the second oldest in the country. We were recently further honored by being recognized as the most diverse public school in the nation. Our student body, faculty and administration represent countless countries, languages, faiths and cultures.

We are proud to teach in such an environment.

We believe in an inclusive, diverse and welcoming society and will continue to build these values in our classrooms as we encourage our students to analyze the world around themselves during these months of political transition.

We hope that other schools will join us.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

PFT Letter Campaign: Our Push to Resume Contract Negotiations

UPDATE (November 17, 2016):
Dr. Hite has sent everyone a reply. Please see below.
It looks like we're really start to annoy them down at 440. Keep up the pressure everyone...
They only way we'll stop is when we get a fair contract!

ORIGINAL POST (October 1, 2016):
The PFT members at Central High School have embarked upon a letter-writing campaign that we hope will set in motion a movement that will be replicated throughout the district. The action itself is a symbol of solidarity designed to urge the School District of Philadelphia to resume contract negotiation talks with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

My letters to Ms. Neff, Mr. Green & Dr. Hite

The idea was the brainchild of Erica Catlin, a fellow member of the Caucus of Working Educators and English teacher at Central:

"We can't let 440 think we don't really care that we've received ZERO pay raises since 2012.  Students have started and finished high school in that amount of time.  

We need to remind them, each time we receive our dismal paychecks, that we are not complacently accepting this forced pay cut that grows sharper each year.  While our bills go up, our paychecks remain frozen.  We can't move forward with our lives when our salaries are stuck.  News outlets are reporting that income is finally growing nationwide.  What about us?

Imagine a flood of letters every two weeks, from all 11,000 PFT employees, arriving at 440 and having to be opened.  Let's gum up the works.  Let's remind the folks at 440, especially anyone who's received a pay raise since 2012 (Hite and his staff), that their raises are coming out of our pockets.  If they want to blame this pay freeze on Harrisburg, then they can forward our letters there."

Over 300 letters from Central alone... Let's do this at EVERY school!

We hope you join the movement and, during your next PD or earlier, print out a copy of each of the following 3 letters and distribute them to every PFT member in your building:
All you have to do is change the name to your school in the last paragraph, print your name at the bottom, sign it, place it in an envelope, and then drop it in the PONY mailbox.

Signed, sealed, delivered... PONY to the next stop at 440 N. Broad!

The beauty of this action is that it takes minimal effort and we also don't have to pay for postage because, as long as we keep our letters professional, we are simply asking a question from a School District employee to an School District employer - exactly what the PONY system was designed to do. Also, because there might be a letter of importance somewhere in the mountain of correspondence, every letter MUST be opened either by Hite, Jimenez, Green, or one of their assistants.

So, let's all join in solidarity - all 11,000 members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers - in order to flood 440 North Broad Street with thousands of letters and "gum up the works" until they GIVE US A FAIR CONTRACT!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Forcing the SRC to Pay for Lost PFT Wages (PART II)

(This entry is the second in a series. If you have not read my previous Forcing the SRC to Pay for Lost PFT Wages then please do so now, seeing as this entry will not make sense without that relevant information.)

Here is the PFT contract negotiating team's response as to why they are not pursuing the legal course of action laid out in my first blog post:

Setting the Record Straight: PA Supreme Court Ruling on Act 696, Step Raises and Lane Changes

It appears that there is incorrect information circulating concerning this week’s decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and its impact on step raises and lane changes. The PFT feels that it is harmful to our members to have--and spread--incorrect information, so we want to set the record straight.
The law in Pennsylvania has long-established that a public employer has no obligation to pay step and longevity increases after a contract hiatus, i.e., the period of time after a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expires, but before the parties reach a new successor agreement. In Fairview School District v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 499 Pa. 539, 454 A.2d 517 (1982), the PA Supreme Court first declared that a public employer’s obligations during the status quo do NOT extend to providing step increases during a contract hiatus.
Similarly, our Commonwealth Court held that public employers have no legal duty to pay longevity increases after a CBA expires. Pennsylvania State Park Officers’ Association v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 854 A.2d 674 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004), appeal denied, 582 Pa. 704, 871 A.2d 194 (2005).
Subsequent decisions by our courts have reaffirmed these holdings. See AFSCME District Council 47 v. City of Philadelphia, 53 A.3d 93 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012); Neshaminy Fed. of Teachers Local Union 1417 v. PLRB, 417 A.2d 837 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008). In fact, no Pennsylvania court has ever held that step and longevity increases are still required during a contract hiatus. Nor has anyone taken the novel position that the Public School Code requires a public school district to pay step and longevity increases after contract hiatus based on the Public School Code. This is true despite the fact that our appellate courts have repeatedly addressed what are the requirements for public school districts regarding step and longevity increases after a CBA expires.
While the PFT would certainly be thrilled if the Court's decision required the School District to implement the step increases and lane changes, it simply does NOT do that.

While I agree that no Pennsylvania court has ever given labor union step and longevity increases during a contract hiatus, public school teachers are in a group all of their own. All labor unions in Pennsylvania must abide by the laws and decisions set forward by the Public Employe Relations Act (1970), or PERA. However, public school employees also have legal recourse under the Pennsylvania School Code.

All of the court cases listed above by the PFT's contract negotiating team are cases that have been decided under the purview of PERA or other laws - BUT NONE HAVE BEEN DECIDED USING THE PA SCHOOL CODE. While the PFT's contract negotiating team claims that my approach is a "novel approach" that has never been taken, I ask, "So what?" 

It is time to test uncharted legal waters.

The most important case cited above in the official PFT response, Fairview School District v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 499 Pa. 539, 454 A.2d 517 (1982) is vital in that it carries the authority of the PA Supreme Court, the highest court in the commonwealth. It states "that the School District's refusal to pay stepped up salaries did not constitute a disruption of the status quo." While that case bases its decision on the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law (1937), NOT THE PA SCHOOL CODE, it is also important to note that there was a dissenting opinion. Justice Larsen, in going against the majority opinion, stated, "I would hold that teachers working under the extended agreement were entitled to compensation commensurate with their years of service, and that the school district's failure to increase the teachers' salaries to reflect an additional year of service constituted a refusal to maintain the status quo."

Seeing as we just worked so hard as a union to get three Democratic judges elected to the PA Supreme Court - judges who have shown they are friendly to labor and more than likely to agree with that dissenting opinion - isn't it time to bring the matter to the PA Supreme Court's attention once again?

Finally, if the PA Supreme Court's current composition isn't enough to spur our PFT contract negotiating team's legal action in pursuit of our step and degree back pay, THERE IS IN FACT LEGAL PRECEDENT IN USING PA SCHOOL CODE TO OBTAIN BACK PAY. The PA Supreme Court in Mifflinburg Area Education Association v. Mifflinburg Area School District, 555 Pa. 326 724 A.2d 339 (1999) refers to the very same PA School Code section that I referred to in my first blog post entry, Section 11-1142 of the PA School Code. The PA Supreme Court stated in that decision that "the language contained in Section 1142(a) protects professional school district employees from the patent unfairness of disregarding past years of service with the same school district." In fact, Commonwealth Court, the PLRB, and the American Arbitration Association have ALL used the Mifflinburg decision in siding with teachers when it comes to salary placement on step schedules for past experience. 

While, granted, every case is unique - in light of the recent decision eliminating the SRC's power to erase PA School Code, the election of 3 PA Supreme Court justices who are friendly to our cause, and the aforementioned legal precedents of using Section 11-1142 of the PA School Code to obtain salary step adjustments - I believe that it is more than logical to ask the PFT contract negotiating team to instruct our excellent lawyers at Willig, Williams, & Davidson to pursue this course of action in the courts. 

At worst, we lose a court case and are back at square one - frozen salaries for the past four years. 

At best, we make the members of the PFT who have not yet reached Step 11 financially whole.