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September 2, 2003


Judge Clement J. McGovern
Chief Negotiator for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

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

Frankly, I am deeply saddened and we are greatly perplexed, disconcerted and confused by the decision by our Catholic high school teachers to reject our contract offer. When we left the bargaining table around 6:30 this morning, union leadership shook our hands and said they would be recommending the contract proposal to teachers. We spent almost eighteen hours at the bargaining table on Labor Day afternoon into Tuesday morning and did everything we could to reach an equitable contract agreement. It was at six o'clock this morning that we presented union leaders with the offer that was ultimately rejected by the union membership at its meeting today.

We understand that there may be some confusion over medical benefits. However, when we left negotiations early this morning, everyone at the table showed confidence in understanding what the numbers were and the union expressed assurance that they could clearly explain to their membership that salary increases are enough to offset any increase in medical premiums. We are greatly disappointed for our Catholic school families that the start of the school year will be disrupted by a strike and we believe the teachers did themselves a disservice by not accepting this offer.

In light of current economic conditions, we offered our teachers a fair contract that provided both a reasonable salary increase and reasonable options in medical benefits. 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. At the same time, costs for teacher medical insurance increased by 70 percent over the past three years. Skyrocketing medical costs are happening across the country and are impacting almost everyone. We must never lose our focus on keeping tuition low for our families, so many of whom already sacrifice to send their children to Catholic schools.

It is our hope that the strike will be brief and the impact on our families minimal. It is in no one's best interest to have teachers out of the classroom. We will continue to be fair and reasonable in our negotiations with the union and would hope that they do the same. The offer by the Archdiocese is summarized by the following:


The Archdiocese offered $900, $1200 and $ 1400 respectively for each year of a three year contract, with starting starting teacher salaries at $30,500 for the first year of the contract; $31,000 for the second year of the contract and $31,700 for the third year of the contract.

Medical Benefits
For the existing medical plans, teacher contributions would be the same in the first year of the contract as teachers paid last year. There would be slightly higher contributions for a new medical plan which the union requested early this morning. Beginning in the second year of the contract, medical plan contributions would be 8% of the cost of the plan. Those in the more expensive Personal Choice and Point-of-Service plans would also pay 10% of the difference between their plan and the HMO plan in the second year and 20% of the difference in the third year. The Archdiocese agreed to a cap in these medical insurance costs.

Editor's Note: Despite a job action, students are expected to report for the first day of school on Wednesday, September 3. For individual school schedules, please check the archdiocesan web site at Please see accompanying release regarding school strike contingency plans.

Catherine L. Rossi
Director of Communications

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