District Trendline

Tr3 Trends: Philadelphia's Teacher Contract Negotiations

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September 2013

Welcome to Tr3 Trends, NCTQ's monthly newsletter designed just for school district officials (subscribe here). Each month we use data from NCTQ's Tr3 database to highlight the latest trends in school district policies and collective bargaining agreements nationwide. Tr3 contains teacher policies from 114 school districts, including the 50 largest districts, the largest district in each state, Broad Prize winners, Gates investment districts and members of the Council of the Great City Schools. Teacher policies from all 50 states are also included. 

Last year around this time we reported on the teacher strike in Chicago. Now we turn our attention to Philadelphia, which has seen its share of labor strife this year. A major budget shortfall, a tight-fisted governor and a reform-minded superintendent set the stage for a showdown at the bargaining table.

In this issue of Tr3 Trends we take a look at a few of the major issues on the bargaining table in Philadelphia and how the district and union proposals stack up against policies in other districts.  Here's what we found:

NEGOTIATION POINT: The School District of Philadelphia is asking teachers to take a pay cut of up to 13% of their current salaries. The union has agreed to retract their proposal for cost-of-living raises, but will not accept pay cuts. 

THE FACTS: While Philadelphia's salaries for mid-career teachers are competitive with those of other high-cost cities, they are lower than those in surrounding school districts. 

Click here to compare teacher salaries in all 114 districts we track. 

NEGOTIATION POINT: The school district is asking teachers to pay part of their health care premium as currently the district pays 100 percent for both teachers and their dependents. The union has said it will agree to contributions to their premiums, but the exact amount is up for negotiation.

THE FACTS: Only 20% of the 55 districts for which we have healthcare data pay 100 percent of premiums for both teachers and their dependents. In school districts surrounding Philadelphia, teachers must pay at least part of their healthcare premium.

NEGOTIATION POINT: Philadelphia school officials want teachers to work an 8-hour day.  The current workday is about 7 hours. 

THE FACTS: Nearly 80% of the districts we track have a longer workday than Philadelphia. 

Big-city districts that have teacher workdays of 8 hours or longer include Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, Long Beach, and Mesa.  Teachers in Washington, D.C., Nashville, Portland (OR), and Oklahoma City work 7.5 hour days. 

To compare teacher workday lengths in all 114 districts in our database, click here.

NEGOTIATION POINT: Philadelphia laid off 676 teachers in June because of budget cuts and is recalling teachers as funding allows. Typically state law says those teachers must be recalled as they were laid off, using seniority.  However, Philadelphia's School Reform Commission has temporarily suspended this section of school code allowing for more flexibility in recalling teachers in Philadelphia. The district's initial bargaining proposal also includes language allowing layoff and recall rules to be set by the superintendent.

THE FACTS: In 76% of the districts we track that recall laid off teachers, teachers are laid off and recalled by seniority.  Only 21% of the districts base layoff and recall decisions primarily on performance. 

School districts in Florida, such as Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, and Broward, layoff and recall teachers by performance, as do Wichita, Cincinnati, and Caddo and East Baton Rouge parishes in Louisiana.

Click here to see the teacher layoff and recall policies in all the school districts we track.

Read more about the School District of Philadelphia's human capital policies in our in-depth report released in May 2013.

Go to Tr3's custom report page to access all the data we use in Tr3 Trends and to compare teacher policies in 114 school districts nationwide. Send feedback to gmoored@nctq.org.