Philadelphia teachers and union officials received a surprise Monday morning.
The School Reform Commission, the board that governs the school district of Philadelphia, announced Monday morning at a meeting that was not heavily advertised in advance that it canceled its contract with the teachers union.
The SRC, citing the agreement that began in 2001 when the state took control, claims it has the power to strike down the contract.
Teachers and other members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers union will not see their pays cut. However, their health benefits will be restructured, according to the district.
No union member ever paid into their benefits, but now with a district-managed plan, they will. Also, the benefits of retired employees will no longer be paid.
District officials said the new benefits plan is expected to save the district upward of $44 million this year. This move, coupled with the approved cigarette tax and the extension of the sales tax, should fully fill this year's budget deficit. There are fears the cigarette tax will fall below projections, however, the changes are expected to provide more than $200 million over the next four to five years.
The district and the union have been in negotiations for just under two years, but could not reach an agreement. A sticking point throughout the negotiations was teacher's paying for their benefits.
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