Philly teachers union head rejects Corbett call for further concessions

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 In this file photo, school supporters protest Governor Tom Corbett.(Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks)

In this file photo, school supporters protest Governor Tom Corbett.(Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks)

As Gov. Tom Corbett asked for contract concessions from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Thursday morning, more than 300 layoff notices were on their way to school district employees.

“We need to have the public sector teacher union in Philadelphia step up and make concessions,” Corbett said as he signed the state’s $29.1 billion budget. “I find it unfathomable that in 498 school districts in Pennsylvania, teachers contribute to their health care. Two other school districts, and primarily Philadelphia do not contribute.”

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers head Jerry Jordan said Corbett’s demand ignores sacrifices his members have already made.

“We have gone a full year without a raise, making this the third consecutive year that members of the federation have gone without a raise,” Jordan said. “We also said we would be willing to find savings of several millions of dollars in order to help the district get through this fiscal problem.”

Other concessions, said Jordan, are “off the table.”

“Concessions that we are not willing to do is to agree to remove services from schools and from students, such as agreeing to eliminate the requirements of counselors in schools the need for school librarians, the need for school nurses,” he said.

Jordan did not elaborate on where the several million dollars in additional savings would come from, saying that’s an issue to be discussed with school leaders.

The Philadelphia district is sending out 342 layoff notices, mostly to noontime aides and special education classroom assistants. The district said those layoffs are not part of the possible 1,300 layoffs that would be necessary if a city cigarette tax, proposed to generate revenue for the struggling school district, fails to get final approval in Harrisburg.

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