This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
With a week left until their current labor deal expires, Philadelphia’s public school principals and administrators are increasingly likely to begin the school year without a contract.
The existing agreement between Teamsters Local 502 of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators — which represents administrators and a smattering of other school employees — and the School District of Philadelphia ends Aug. 31. Union president Robert McGrogan acknowledged that his members are unlikely to ratify a new deal before the deadline, or even before school opens Sept. 7.
“The opening of the school is the highest priority right now for my members,” he said. “They can’t divert their attention to too many other things.”
The ongoing rift between CASA and the District means Philadelphia students will almost certainly walk into buildings this fall where most staff — and nearly all instructional staff — are working under expired contracts. The School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have been unable to strike a new labor deal for nearly three years.
That’s a significant setback for the District, which has stated repeatedly that it is focused on achieving labor peace now that the school system has a small budget surplus.
“We remain optimistic about attaining an agreement, and we’re continually talking with CASA about how we can proceed,” said district spokesman Kevin Geary.
All this comes a little more than two months after Philadelphia schools enjoyed a run of encouraging labor news.
In mid-June, the union representing blue-collar workers in Philadelphia schools inked a new contract with the district. About the same time, CASA reached a tentative agreement with the School District and brought that agreement before its members for ratification. That, however, is where the momentum stopped.