August 27, 2022
The School District of Philadelphia averted a strike which could have left it without bus drivers and maintenance workers for the first day of classes on Monday.
The district reached a new contract agreement with Service Employees International Union 32BJ, which represents about 2,000 of the district’s workers, on Friday.
The union authorized a strike last Saturday after negotiations stalled due to disagreements over training and wages. Their two-year contract was set to expire on Wednesday.
Although the exact details of the deal haven’t been released yet, it includes “historic wage increases” and “millions in funding for additional standardized training programs,” Gabe Morgan, the vice president of 32BJ, said in a release.
“This contract honors the enormous contributions and sacrifices that 32BJ school workers have made, including risking their lives throughout the pandemic,” he said.
Morgan said the deal could not have been reached without support from Mayor Jim Kenney and other elected officials.
City Council and a group of elected state officials both wrote letters encouraging the district to provide higher wages and more funding training. The letters note that the workers represented by 32BJ were making “between $2 and $3 below what comparable city employees make.”
The district released a statement celebrating the new contract.
“We are excited that we were able to reach an agreement in principle,” said Lisa Shambaugh, the district’s chief talent officer. “We all look forward to starting the new school year with the certainty that we will do so without disruption to in-person learning for our students and families.”
The contract will not officially be in place until it’s ratified by the union members and approved by the school board.
The district faced a similar situation last year, when the district’s contract with the teacher’s union, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, was ratified just hours before the deadline.