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September 1, 2003


6:00 p.m.
Judge Clement J. McGovern
Chief Negotiator for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

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

At this hour, we remain in negotiations in an attempt to reach an equitable contract agreement with our teachers union. When we went into negotiations early this afternoon, we gave the union a contract proposal and they have remained in caucus until this hour. We have not heard from the union since earlier today, thus we have had no meaningful movement. We are in a race against the clock. We know the union will be taking a contract proposal to its membership on Tuesday morning. Here is a summary of the key contract issues:

We face realistic concerns about declining enrollment and deficits faced by 12 of our 22 archdiocesan high schools. We are also negotiating a contract during very difficult economic times. Nationally, percentage increases for salaries have hit a 30 year low and a significant number of employers have given no increases this year. According to the National Association of Catholic School Teachers, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s high school teachers have the third highest salaries in the country. The average teacher salary is $41,744. At this hour, the salary increase offer by the Archdiocese stands at $500, $600, $700 respectively for each year of a three year contract. The union has asked for $2500 ( 6%) in a one year contract.

We need to hold the line on expenditures in the interest of holding the line on tuition. High school tuition for the 2003-2004 school year is $3700. Our families simply cannot afford to have tuition costs continue to increase dramatically. Dioceses with higher salaries have significantly higher tuition.

Length of Contract
For the stability of the Catholic education system, the Archdiocese is seeking a three-year contract. The last nine teachers contracts have been three-years pacts. The union is seeking a one-year contract.

Medical Benefits
Costs for teacher medical insurance have increased 3 million dollars (a 70% increase) in the last three years.
Most of our teachers are enrolled in the Personal Choice Plan, where premiums have skyrocketed. The percentage that teacher have contributed toward their health insurance has declined in the last three years. The Archdiocese is asking teachers to contribute more toward the cost of their medical plan. Lower contributions are being offered for less expensive medical plans.

Management Issues
We do not yet have complete agreement with the union on some issues of teacher accountability that will enable the Archdiocese to operate the school system efficiently while maintaining the highest standards of Catholic education.

Editor’s Note: The first day of school is Wednesday, September 3, 2003. High school students will be required to report to school as scheduled. In the five-county region, 23,000 high school students attend 22 archdiocesan high schools. There are approximately 1000 high school lay teachers.

Catherine Rossi
Director of Communications

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