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August 31, 2003


Transcript of Media Interviews at 5: 30 p.m.
with Judge Clement J. McGovern
Chief Negotiator for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Judge McGovern is a retired Delaware County Court of Common Pleas judge

Media Q: Howís it going?
Judge McGovern: How are we going? Thatís a great question. There is some movement on some of the language. Weíre not nearly where we would like to be and we really need the union to respond in a meaningful way, to some of the important language clauses and of course, underneath there is one pot of money... we have to cost out the various provisions in the agreement that are going to cost the Archdiocese money. I am hopeful. I think the movement indicates a willingness on both sides of the table to move but we really need the union to make some meaningful movement on that three million dollar increase on health benefits over the past three years. And they know that because weíve said that before.

Media Q: What is the major sticking point?
Judge McGovern: Major sticking point? Itís hard to tell what a major sticking point ... of course money is a major sticking point but there are some language clauses, language changes in the existing contract that are also sticking points. Whether theyíre major or not remains to be seen and thatís the subject of negotiations.

Media Q: Why one versus a three year contract?
Judge McGovern: Weíre looking for three because we want to give some stability to the system. The union is looking for one year. As Iíve said before, can you imagine going through this every year ? Especially if youíre a parent. Especially if you have a system to run.

Media Q: The movement that you refer to, "some movement on some of the language," is that concerning the health benefits?
Judge McGovern: Weíre waiting now, as I speak, for a response to our most recent salary and health benefit proposal.

Media Q: How confident are you? Wednesdayís the day schoolís supposed to start?
Judge McGovern: Iím a self-doubter. Iím not confident of anything in life but Iím optimistic in the sense that I think if we continue working hard and getting movement, I think we can make it. But Iím not a prophet.

Media Q: But are you being realistic? I mean, really, can you expect someone to devote 40 years of their life to Catholic education to live on a pension of $18 k a year ? They canít live on that.
Judge McGovern : Respectfully, Iím not sure of your figures but we could sit down and figure that out. We believe that we have been fair and reasonable in our contracts. These are agreements that we have done for over 30 years with the union and we think the union believed in the past that we were being fair and reasonable. Do I think Iím being realistic? Absolutely.

Media Q: You mentioned $3 million. Iím new to this. A $3 million increase in insurance costs to the Archdiocese over the past three years?
Judge McGovern: Thatís correct.

Media Q: And what can you tell us as far as what the offers are as far as health and salary?
Judge McGovern: I would rather not get into that simply because as Iíve said before I do not think we should do our bargaining in the media. With all due respect to you all.

Media Q: Any contingency plans if they vote no?
Judge McGovern: I can assure you when you need to know, youíll know. At this point, to get into that seems to me to be counterproductive.

Media Q: Are talks scheduled for tomorrow?
Judge McGovern: At this point, no.

Media Q: Are you going to continue to meet through the night?
Judge McGovern: Oh yes, oh yes. As far as the diocese is concerned weíre going to meet as long as it takes. Weíll be there whenever we can bargain.

Media Q: Is it a case of wanting to give them what they want but itís just not there to give?
Judge McGovern: No, we think what they want is unreasonable. We want to give them what is fair in light of the current economic circumstances.

Editorís Note: The current contract expires at midnight August 31, 2003. This current teachers contract affects approximately 1000 high school lay teachers. 23,000 high school students attend 22 archdiocesan high schools in the five-county region. The first day of school is Wednesday, September 3, 2003.


Catherine L. Rossi
Director of Communications

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