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September 8, 2003


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

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

It is unfortunate that the union's Executive Board has rejected the Archdiocese's latest offer which was made around 10:00 p.m. on September 7, 2003. Frankly, we are not surprised by this decision since one third of the Board members are on the union's negotiating team. We are disappointed the Board would not take this request to the teachers to discuss and decide in a secret ballot at a membership meeting. Our offer represented significant improvement to the offer that this same Board recommended to its membership one week ago today.

We heard the teachers' concerns about medical issues. We knew this was an important issue during these negotiations and had asked the union to address this early in the summer, but it did not address medical issues until Labor Day weekend, which put a tremendous burden on the negotiating process.

In our latest proposal, we eliminated the $150 co-pays for outpatient surgery and in-patient hospital stays which were of great concern to the teachers. This increased the cost of the medical plans by over $350,000 a year. We reduced the amount the teachers would have to pay in employee contributions and agreed to a contribution formula developed by the union's negotiating team.

We made an improvement to our salary offer for more experienced teachers. Since the union requested a flat dollar salary increase for all teachers, the percentage increases for experienced teachers was lower than that being offered to less experienced teachers. In the latest offer, salary increases ranged from $900 to $1140 in the first year; increases in the second year ranged from $1200 to $1400; and increases in the third year ranged from $1400 to $1600. At a time when some employers are giving no raises at all, we view this offer as fair.

The union requested increases of $1200 in the first year, $1400 in the second year, and $1500 in the third year. These increases would cost more than $600,000 or 17% more than the agreed salaries of September 2, 2003.

The concerns the teachers had about increasing the age for eligibility for early retirement have been addressed. The age was returned to 55 from 58. We accepted a union proposal to have teachers who retire early pay for part of their medical insurance costs.

Perhaps, people do not realize, the Catholic high school system is dependent on tuition for 91% of its operating budget. Without risking dramatic increases in tuition, which we think no family would want us to do, we have reached the financial limitations of what we can place on the bargaining table.

There should be absolutely no doubt that we have great respect for our teachers, but we will never be able to pay them at the level of their public school counterparts. The teachers are unequivocally the backbone of this Catholic education system.

In the interest of getting teachers and students back into the classroom as quickly as possible, we have made an offer to the union to meet this evening to continue our discussions.

Dr. Thomas F. O'Brien - Superintendent of Schools

All 22 high schools of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will be closed on Tuesday, September 9th with no sporting activities or events. The Office for Catholic Education will be deciding the school schedule on a day by day basis.


Catherine L. Rossi
Director of Communications

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