NY: 8 months working without a contract, Catholic teachers stage sick-out at 10 schools, likely to strike during Pope Benedict XVIs' visit

So you can afford to send your kid to Catholic School for a better education.

In the New York City area, there is a good chance that with the smaller enrollment and smaller class sizes your child will have a much better means of actually learning without all the nonsense involved such as...
  • social promotion
  • overcrowding
  • plots to blow up the school and kill students and teachers alike
  • the whole you got better shoes than mine so I'm gonna steal them thing
In that, you pay a very high price for the benefit to send your child to school, but the cost almost always seems worth it. Which brings us to the point of the job action. These teachers, who all make well below the Public school teachers salary, have been working without a contract since August 2007.

The union, the Federation of Catholic Teachers, states that the Archdiocese of New York has been holding back information on the current costs of their health care package, which has been the major stipulation since the Archdiocese submitted their "Final offer" in November 2007

The "Final offer" included increased premiums which the union said was too high, so a few weeks later they began seeking a new health care plan from an outside group. They wound up finding a plan through Local 153 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union(OPEIU). One item needed to calculate the new plan, was the cost of running the plan they had in place in 2007. According to the NY Times (4/5/08):
That group agreed to do a feasibility study (new group for OPEIU plan), Ms. Perry said, but told the union it needed to provide information from its previous plan. While the archdiocese has provided a lot of information, Ms. Perry said, it has yet to turn over one of the most vital pieces: the actual cost of running the plan, known as the utilization cost, from 2007. The union has repeatedly asked for these figures since last December, Ms. Perry said, but the archdiocese has provided years-old information.

“The cost of health care makes it difficult for people to make ends meet,” Ms. Perry said. “This strike is an unfair labor practice strike in order to get the information.”

But Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese was preparing those documents and had been planning on turning them over to the union within the next few days.
Last December?? The union has been asking since last December for some paperwork to avoid the strike and the Archdiocese, knowing the union wants to come to terms, has been stalling? Why on earth are they potentially putting the kids education at risk?

On April 1st., the union members had a strike vote, and announced they were going to start it during the Popes visit, according to NY1 (4/1/08) :
Catholic school teachers voted Tuesday night to go on strike over contract terms the week Pope Benedict XVI comes to New York.

About 300 city Catholic school teachers have been working without a contract since August and union officials say Edward Cardinal Egan has been unreceptive.

Of the more than 150 members of the Lay Faculty Association that joined in Yonkers to vote on whether to authorize the strike, only 20 members voted against it. When the union's head announced the vote, the crowd cheered.

The union wants to raise top teacher salaries from $53,000 a year to $60,000. Talks stalled in December over salary and benefits for the next three years.

Teacher Mary Anne Lamassa says that when she compares what the archdiocese brings in every year with what she takes home as a math teacher, the figures just don't add up.

"My salary is only $52,000 a year," she said. "I know at a public school I could make much more than that, but I like where I teach. I like serving the diocese and working with the students at Cardinal Spellman."

They said the timing of the strike would show the church they mean business.

"We need to get the message out to the Catholic community who will be here during that time, and it's important for everyone to understand that we are not protesting the pope's visit, but we need to get the message out to the Catholic community that we have a problem here in New York," said Anthony Cusimano of the teachers union.

"The pope will probably not even know we're here," said Henry Kielkucki, the union head. "The pope will probably not even know there is a strike. It's the Catholic community that's going to have to say 'why are your teachers going on strike during this very holy time?'"
In a statement, a spokesman for the archdiocese said, "To use the visit of the Holy Father as a means of protest and division is an insult to the Holy Father and to the people of God at this diocese."
Ignoring the need for the information to get a more competitive health plan which could have avoided this entire mess is an insult to the teachers, the students and the hard working families who can afford to choose to send their kids to a Catholic School. It seems this could all have been settled almost a year ago when in May 2007 negotiations first begun.

Poughkeepsie Journal has a forum where this is being discussed, I'm waiting for my confirmation E-Mail, you can get E-Active and speak your mind too.

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