May 1, 2015 – Catholic school teachers in the Archdiocese of New York go on strike at five schools this morning because of unfair labor practices. "It will be a rolling strike with other schools impacted next week and each week thereafter for as long as it takes for our members to be treated fairly," says Julia Pignataro, the President of the Federation of Catholic Teachers (FCT), the union that represents more than 2,600 teachers in the Archdiocese of New York."
“We need to make ends meet just like all working families. We know the Archdiocese will say our rolling strikes hurt the children, but we think closing 60 schools in four years is what really hurts our students," Pignataro added. "Threatening more closings simply because we asked for a fair wage increase is unfair to teachers and we believe it violates labor law. It is also unfair to the students. These strikes are aimed at saving schools, not closing them."
Records examined by the FCT show that many millions of dollars are being collected from rentals of the schools already closed. "We took a very low wage increase in our last contract three years ago to help keep schools open and we were promised that the rental money from closed schools would be poured back into the Catholic education system,” Pignataro says. "Where's the money?"
The schools where teachers are on strike today are: St. Jean Baptiste High School, Manhattan (173 E 75th St, New York, NY), Notre Dame Academy High School, Staten Island (78-78 Howard Ave.), St. Thomas Aquinas, Bronx (1909 Daly Avenue), Our Lady Queen of Peace, Staten Island (22 Steele Avenue), and St. Gregory Barbarigo, Garnerville, Rockland County (29 Cinder Road, Garnerville, NY).
The FCT has filed unfair labor practice charges against the Archdiocese’s Association of Catholic Schools for threatening to close up to 10 more schools per year if the teachers receive a wage increase of only 1% (one percent). The teachers have been working without a contract since September.
“Pope Francis has publicly stated his support for fair wages for school teachers and we are considering writing a letter to His Holiness,” says Pignataro. "We are probably the lowest-paid educators in the Northeast and we deserve better treatment than this.”
For further details contact the FCT at 718-370-0081 or 347-577-2520