School District negotiates new union contracts, amid COVID-19 concerns

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As it navigates the COVID-19 outbreak, the School District of Philadelphia is also negotiating labor contracts with its teachers and maintenance workers' unions.

Talks have been under the radar so far, with the coronavirus back-to-school plan grabbing the headlines. The district's current four-year contract with the 13,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers expires at the end of this month. 

Superintendent William Hite said even amid a pandemic, talks have been going on. "We hope to have a resolution, or either a new contract or an extension moving forward," Hite told reporters in a Zoom call.

In an interview last month, PFT President Jerry Jordan told KYW Newsradio the union's aim is to begin the new school year with a new contract. "It is our goal to start with a new agreement," Jordan said.

The district is also negotiating with its building engineers and maintenance workers. The contract with 2,900 members of 32BJ SEIU also expires at the end of August. 

Hite said the negotiations, like everything else because of COVID-19, have been online.​