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Catholic Teachers Go On Strike

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia made the announcement Tuesday.

Teachers at the city's Catholic institutions have gone on strike.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in a statement that its negotiations with the teachers' union—called the Association of Catholic Teachers—that represents the educators broke off early Tuesday morning. School started today.

After the two sides couldn't agree on a contract, according to the Archdiocese, union officials walked away from the negotiating table, saying that the new contract offered wasn't sufficient.

"I think, overall, the proposals that the system originally presented to us were very much anti-teacher and anti-union proposals," union Vice President Irene Tori said Tuesday afternoon. "They also wanted to strip us of many of the working conditions and the hard-earned rights that we had won."

One of those changes, Tori said, includes moving away from a seniority-based system that allows teachers with more experience to keep their jobs.

Archdiocese officials, meanwhile, said they had done all they could.

"The Archdiocese made multiple concessions in our proposals and believes the contract offered to the teachers is equitable," they said in a news release. "It is our hope that our teachers will recognize that a strike is not in their best interest and most certainly not in the best interest of our students and their families."

Tori said teachers will picket outside high schools beginning Wednesday at 7 a.m. She said most schools hold an orientation for freshmen on the first day of school, so classes shouldn't be disrupted too much then, but they could be affected more in the future.

Students will likely arrive at school since buildings will be open.

Tori said she isn't totally sure when negotiations will resume in earnest. The union wants a mediator to intervene in the process.

So far, that hasn't happened.

"I think the mediator would be able to resolve this much more quickly than we can," Tori said.

The two sides have been negotiating for about five months.

"The Archdiocesan team was willing to talk until the last minute but the Association's team walked away from the table with significant issues not agreed upon or in some cases even discussed," it said in a news release.

Regardless, Tori said she is optimistic things will work out. Elementary schools—like in Bensalem—will be in session.

"We are hopeful that we will be back in soon," she said.

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