Mayor Michael Nutter on Tuesday said he sides with the School Reform Commission.
“They did the one thing that they had left,” Nutter said.
Nutter spoke one day after the SRC —the board that governs the School District of Philadelphia — announced at a meeting without much prior notice that it canceled its contract with the teachers’ union and mandated that teachers pay toward their health benefits. The SRC also canceled benefits for retired district workers.
Nutter said that in this era it’s unsustainable for employees to not pay something toward their health benefits, especially employees of a district that has closed 32 schools and eliminated 5,000 positions.
“The action, unfortunately, was necessary,” Nutter said. “The fact is that the system is broken. There is no more money to be had from anywhere.”
While district officials touted that no salaries would be cut, healthcare coverage would cost between $71 and $200 a month per family and it would be deducted from the employee’s paycheck. Retired workers lost their dental, vision and prescription plans. These changes go into effect on Dec. 15.
School officials said the overhaul annually would save the cash-strapped district about $44 million this year and $70 million per year in the future.
In regards to the meeting, which was not heavily advertised, Nutter said with a small advertisement in The Inquirer the SRC followed “the requirement under the law.”
“I think the action itself is most upsetting to folks,” he said, “but the bottom line here, is some action needed to be taken.”
On Monday, PFT President JerryJordan said the actions of the commission were “dirty” and “underhanded,” and he demanded the district get back to contract negotiations. He also said the union will fight the SRC in Commonwealth Court.
“Look,” Nutter added. “It’s not the proudest moment in the city’s history. There should be no jumping for joy for what has taken place. I think the action is indicative of the dire circumstance.”
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