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Friday, December 9, 2016
Catholic teachers strike in New York
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¬†Hundreds of Catholic high school teachers in New York went on strike on Friday in a dispute over pay and pensions. Students from several schools were sent home early. Others spent their their day sitting in a gym. Parents at Maria Regina High School in Hartsdale, Westchester, came to support rain-soaked picketing teachers with coffee and sandwiches. At Cathedral High School in Manhattan, many students simply turned round and went home when they saw the picket line. For some time teachers have been voicing discontent over pay and conditions. Teachers at most church schools earn slightly less than their state school counterparts. Elementary school teachers working for the archdiocese earn $26,712 to $37,010 a year. The top salary for a Catholic high school teacher is around $41,000. In comparison, salaries for all New York City public school teachers range from $31,910 to $70,000 and higher. The strike is said to have been triggered after Cardinal Edward Egan announced major economies in the school system, to help cope with a £20million budget deficit. These included closing three schools. Spokesperson for the archdiocese, Joseph Zwilling, said in statement on Friday that the budget gap and the contract talks were "two separate and distinct items." Randi Weingarten, president of the union representing New York City's public school teachers told strikers at Cathedral High School: "You deserve a living wage and to retire with dignity." Two other teaching unions are currently in talks with the diocese. The Lay Faculty Association, which representing 377 Catholic teachers and guidance counsellors, is talking about pay. The much larger Federation of Catholic Teachers which represents 3,600 teachers at several hundred elementary and high schools in the archdiocese, is negotiating new contracts. A spokesperson for the Federation said on Friday that they were unhappy with what the archdiocese had offered to date. Union leaders refused to say whether the strike will continue. Mr. Zwilling said the archdiocese had advised all schools not to cancel classes and to have administrators, nuns and priests stand in for striking teachers if necessary.
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