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Pittsburgh Public Teachers One Step Closer To Strike, But Will Hold Off For Negotiations

Amy Sisk
90.5 WESA
The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers building on the South Side.

The 2,400 teachers who work for Pittsburgh Public Schools are one step closer to a strike, but will hold off doing so as the union representing them continues to negotiate with the district. 

The executive committee of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers Thursday night authorized President Nina Esposito-Visgitis to call a strike, if necessary. However, Esposito-Visgitis said the union will continue negotiations with the district.

"I want the community to know that our educators want to be in school with your kids," she said in a statement, "but we will fight for what we know is in the best interest of students and schools." 

On Monday, 94 percent of members fo the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers voted to authorize the strike. If a strike is called, the union has to give the district 48 hours' notice.  

Further negotiations between the union and district are scheduled for Friday

The two groups have been negotiating for more than a year-and-a-half for three contracts that would cover teachers, paraprofessionals and clerical workers. Five-year contracts ran out in June 2015. Union members have been working under the terms of the previous contract until that extension expired in June 2017.

Negotiations stalled late last month when the district and PFT failed to agree on issues including salaries, contract lengths, class size and health care benefits.

Pittsburgh education advocacy group A Plus Schools has been coordinating organizationsthat could care for children in the event of a teacher strike. They've distributed forms for caregivers and volunteers, asking what would be needed and who could help.

PPS serves 24,000 students.  

90.5 WESA's Amy Sisk, Sarah Schneider and Sarah Kovash contributed to this report.