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New Foundations Charter School ratifies first union contract

PHILADELPHIA – High school teachers and support staff at New Foundations Charter School in Philadelphia, have ratified their first contract unanimously.

The teaching staff voted to join the Alliance of Charter School Employees, Local 6056 of the American Federation of Teachers, AFT Pennsylvania, in 2017 to improve working conditions, teacher recruitment and retention and give employees a voice in the education of their students, as well as in their professional lives.

"Two years of hard work was worth every second,” said Jim Schmidt, a New Foundations pre-calculus, calculus and engineering teacher. “A great school got even better. With union solidarity our staff will remain in place for years to come, benefiting all members of our school community.”

The contract provides retroactive raises for professional employees who worked in the 2017-18 school year. All told, raises average more than $5,700 per professional employee through the end of the 2018-19 school year. The contract will expire June 30, 2021.

Aides and administrative assistants received three percent in salary increases retroactive to the 2017-18 school year and a three percent increase for the 2018-19 school year. Professional employees also negotiated a salary scale for new hires.

Existing employees will not pay healthcare premiums for the life of the agreement. The new contract also establishes fair share fees, although all existing eligible employees are union members. The contract includes just-cause language, progressive discipline and grievance procedures, labor-management and building committees and limits on compulsory extracurricular activities.

New Foundations Charter School opened in 2000 in the Torresdale section of Philadelphia and has expanded to include students in kindergarten through 12th grade. With 62 teachers and staff in the union, 100 percent of employees covered by the new contract signed cards to join the union.

“The process of organizing the union and negotiating a strong, educationally focused contract has brought into clearer focus the ways in which good labor-management dialogue can improve a school,” said AFTPA President Ted Kirsch. “The union is a positive step that will help to develop strong relationships and strengthen the school in the long run.”

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