By SHERI GASSAWAY
Thanks to an outpouring of solidarity and support from students, parents and the labor community, the St. Louis Archdiocese Teachers Association (SLATA) is moving closer to a fairer and more equitable contractual agreement with the Archdiocese of Saint-Louis.
Last month, the archdiocese tried to destroy its teachers’ union by trying to impose its own so-called “contract” on educators and threatening their jobs if they didn’t sign it – an effort that is totally in conflict with the position of the church in supporting the unions.
In response, the St. Louis Labor Council passed a resolution demanding that the Archdiocese return to the bargaining table and negotiate with teachers, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) St. Louis 420 wrote a letter to SLATA of support and solidarity saying “all teachers deserve union and respect.
On Sunday March 27, teachers, parents and students organized a prayer meeting and a mass at the Cathedral Basilica. On Monday, March 28, teachers held a “sick outing” at three of the high schools, prompting students to hold their own rally outside the cathedral.
Finally, the archdiocese agreed to meet with the union on March 30 – the day before teachers’ contracts expire for the next school year. Although no agreement in principle has been reached, the parties have been able to move closer to an agreement and the dates for the return of the teachers’ individual contracts have been extended until April 19.
“The SLATA Bargaining Team and its members have been overwhelmed with tremendous support,” said SLATA President Kathryn Williams-Heese. “Thanks to prayers, solidarity and bold actions, the March 30 negotiations with the Archdiocese were successful.”
The archdiocese and the teachers’ union are due to meet today, April 7, at 4 p.m. SLATA represents educators at Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory, Bishop DuBourg, Rosati-Kain, St. Mary’s, and St. Pius X high schools.
Negotiations over a new three-year contract began in October. The teacher’s current contract expired on March 4. About 90 percent of the teachers rejected the archdiocese’s latest contract offer and asked the archdiocese to continue negotiations. Specifically, the contract:
- Did not include a procedure for place educators in the event of school closures or consolidation. The archdiocese is planning a major reorganization of Catholic schools based on declining enrollment.
- Proposal for meager increases unless experienced teachers and salary reductions for the most experienced teachers with master’s degrees of up to $7,320 per year.
- Seniority eliminated within the system.
- Elimination of a functional grievance process.
- Cut incentives for early retirement.
After the teachers rejected the contract, the archdiocese hand-delivered individualized contracts, different from the last contract they voted on. The new contracts instituted a new organization of the Archdiocese to replace SLATA, completely ignoring the existence of the organization. Teachers had to sign them before March 31, otherwise their position would be considered open.
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT
SLATA encourages supporters to write emails to Archbishop Rozanski ([email protected]) and Dr. Todd Sweda ([email protected]), the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, urging them to continue negotiating with teachers until until they reach a fair contract. .
To receive updates on negotiations, subscribe to bit.ly/SLATA.