Tiny Summary: The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has a large sum of money lying around in the Health and Welfare Fund so they are giving the School District $30 million to extend the current contract for one whole year and not lose any benefits.
Short Summary: A quote from the Proposed Contract Extension paper given to all members at the beginning of the meeting. "Due to careful planning, careful bidding processes, constant monitoring, and very careful investments, the H&W Fund was able to offer upfront financial relief to the School District with a delayed payback schedule. The financial relief will provide the School District with payment holidays to the Fund in an amount totaling $58 million. The School District will repay to the Fund an amount totaling $28 million in a schedule agreed upon by the parties." Basically, the PFT is lending the School District $58 million and getting $28 million back in three lump sums after this year.
Larger Summary: The PFT leadership has done some amazing things that will allow teachers to work without any concessions until August 31, 2013. The demands from the School District may have included 1) not getting the raise due to us on January 1, 2012; 2) having to pay premiums for health insurance and; 3) losing lots of PFT members (translation: layoffs).
That being said, this means the PFT is GIVING THE SCHOOL DISTRICT $30 MILLION! While I did vote in favor of the proposal (as did the vast majority of attendees, I'm sure) it still makes me wonder how we can afford that as a union. Perhaps our financial management is so good we should get some of our people over to the School District. Or maybe we can just become more like the Ontario teachers pension fund and buy a few sports teams only to sell them for millions later.
This was my first time at a large PFT meeting and I have to say it seemed more like a presentation than a call for input. Of the people who responded during public comment time only two of us (I was one of them) asked questions regarding the finances of this proposal. One person pointed out that the PFT is giving $30 million and asked how that was possible (to which Jerry Jordan politically maneuvered around the answer) and then I asked if we were also receiving interest on the $28 million dollars that would have been given to us on time (to which the answer was a simple "no").
I am very grateful to have a union as powerful as this - I just hope more people get involved in asking the tough questions. I was quick enough to stand in front of the microphone tonight because I have a few years of experience under my belt. I wish more people would do the same.