Philly Teachers Return To Work Without New Contract

Philly Teachers Return To Work Without New Contract

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PHILADELPHIA -

Philadelphia teachers and district leaders say they're making progress in contract talks. But the teachers are heading back to work Tuesday morning without a deal in place.

About 15,000 members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers are in limbo, wondering if they'll have a new contract agreement by the time the first bell rings next week.

The labor union met on Labor Day to discuss negotiations only to find out that a deal has not been finalized yet.

"Politics. It's not about the kids. It's all politics and I think they need to put that aside," says Joann Coleman, a school nurse.

Over the weekend, the teachers' current contract expired. District leaders want more than 100 million dollars in concessions from the union to close a 304 million dollar budget gap.

Union president Jerry Jordan told the media late Monday night that they've made progress, but there's a significant amount of work to be done

"It was our hope it would be a ratification meeting for a new contract. As of right now we still don't have an agreement," says Union president Jerry Jordan.

Jordan wants teachers to allow a wage freeze, and he wants them to pay for part of their health insurance.

Jayne Downing has been a librarian with the district for 30 years.

"I think it's fair. We do want to help. Each of us can do that if we have to," she says.

District leaders, however, have expressed opposition to the plan.

They want wage cuts and a reduction in health care coverage, something staff members such as Joann Coleman doesn't think is fair.

"We're not giving up the pay cuts, but we're willing to pay into our health coverage," says JoAnn.

Without a contract deal in place, many teachers are concerned about returning with a smaller staff. Almost 3,000 employees were pink slipped in June and still hope to return.

My fear is the safety of the children because we're going back without counselors," says JoAnn

"I feel concerned for my students with conditions that are not safe," says Christy Kenney-Quinn.

Jordan says they will work every day this week to reach a settlement.

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