Philly archdiocese high school teachers on strike

High school teachers in the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia have hit the picket lines.

The teachers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to go on strike.

Association of Catholic Teachers local union head Rita Schwartz says the archdiocese  won’t guarantee the jobs of veteran teachers when schools are closed or in the event of layoffs.

“Right now, as a system, we go to a meeting, we pick a new school,” Schwartz said. “Now they are saying, they lay off everybody and if there is an opening, you have a shot at an interview. Sorry, doesn’t cut it with us.”

Tom McIlhenny, a teacher at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, said the archdiocese wants complete control over its teachers.

“Which means that I can be fired at will at any time they want, I have no protection,” he said. “It’s not a question of I’m not doing my job, it can be personal. If a principal of a school doesn’t like me, that should not affect how I do my job.”

Richard McCarron, secretary of the Office of Catholic Education, says that’s a distortion of the archdiocese’s position. He says archdiocesan officials want to continue to negotiate in good faith.

The 17 high schools in the city and surrounding suburbs are scheduled to open Wednesday. 

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