PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — With just over a week from the school’s start in Philadelphia, the school workers’ union, SEIU 32BJ, has voted to go on strike.
“The workers of the Philadelphia School District just voted to go on strike! Enough is enough! After months of negotiations, the district is meeting workers’ needs for more training and wages commensurate with what those doing the same work in Philadelphia earn, said SEIU 32BJ.
The district’s maintenance, storage and transportation workers voted to approve a strike after a meeting on Saturday afternoon.
Union members say their demands for fair wages and more education have not been met.
The current contract expires on August 31.
“We worked through COVID. Everyone considered us a hero. Currently in negotiations and no one remembers that,” said John Bynum, district leader for Local 32BJ of SEIU. “We are just negotiating a fair contract. I can’t explain why the district isn’t listening.’
According to Bynum, an estimated 2,200 workers are represented by the union and under this contract.
The jobs range from bus drivers, mechanics, cleaners, craftsmen and clerks.
The lowest paid position currently earns $14.31 per hour.
“Our scale is all the way down across the board. We are underpaid. In 2012, we made concessions on our salary when the school district was in financial distress. Nobody seems to remember that,” Bynum said.
In a press release, union representatives said negotiations on new contracts have stalled over fair pay and standardized training programs that workers need to do their jobs safely and keep students, teachers and staff safe.
A spokesperson for the Philadelphia School District gave this statement:
“We greatly appreciate the work of our employees, who are represented by 32BJ SEIU District 1201. We will continue to actively participate in talks and negotiations to secure a new contract as soon as possible, without disrupting personal learning to begin the 2022-2023 school year Schools are hubs of our community Last year we saw first hand the joy and excitement of our students, families and staff as they reconnected and reconnected with the caring school communities they so missed. this momentum is what is best for our young people. We continue to hope that we will be able to agree to fair and sustainable terms of a contract that values and supports our employees.”
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