Rally Participants Should Not Be Surprised

Nine community organizations joined together yesterday to rally for factors other than seniority to be considered when the Pittsburgh Public Schools takes action to reduce the employee headcount this fall, with at least 350 classroom teachers the initial estimate. Several advocacy groups said that the data is there to make a determination on effectiveness; the teachers’ union says seniority is the only fair way; the Board hopes to find a middle ground.

That the union is holding steadfast in its position on seniority should have come as no surprise: even as the District and the union worked on a pay for performance model and negotiated a five year contract in 2010 and there was a spirit of cooperation the documents applying for foundation money to support teacher effectiveness stated "…the [Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers] membership will be the final voice on collective bargaining issues" and "…the PFT membership will be the final voice on these initiatives [related to pay for performance]". The contract states that "system seniority shall be the sole applicable seniority criterion to be applied in the layoff of any teacher(s)". Even much of the contract language that implements the Teacher Effectiveness Plan contains special seniority provisions.