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Pittsburgh Teachers Will Not Strike Friday After Tentative Agreements Were Reached Late Tuesday

Amy Sisk
90.5 WESA
After lengthy negotiations between the Pittsburgh Public School District and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, a deal has been reached stopping the union from striking.

A strike by Pittsburgh Public Schools teachers has been averted just days before members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers had planned to walk out.

After nearly 14 hours of negotiations Tuesday night, union and district leaders said they had reached tentative agreements.

The parties have been negotiating for more than a year-and-a-half for contracts covering teachers, paraprofessionals and technical clerical workers.

The tentative three-year agreements will now be presented to the PFT’s Executive Board, according to releases from the union and district. If approved, the PFT will send the contracts to its more than 3,000 members for secret ballot ratification votes.

PFT President Nina Esposito-Visgitis said in the statement she was thankful for the support of the members and community, “in fighting for our students.” The district serves roughly 24,000 students. 

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet also thanked those involved in negotiating efforts.

“Now the real work begins: moving forward together, as one district, to create the best possible education for our children,” he said.

The union representing 2,400 Pittsburgh Public Schools teachers announced Monday morning that it planned to go on strike Friday, giving the district 96-hours' notice.

By Pennsylvania law, the union is required to give the district 48 hours' notice of intention to walk out.

A bargaining session ended last week without agreements. Earlier this month, 94 percent of members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers voted to authorize the strike. The union’s executive committee then gave President Nina Esposito-Visgitis sole authorization.

As of Monday, leaders of both sides did not agree on what the remaining issues were.

Hamlet said in a statement that the one unresolved issue dealt with giving principals the authority to set schedules in their buildings.

The union disagreed saying there were numerous issues that hadn’t been signed off on including reducing class size and increasing pay for early childhood education teachers.

Once the PFT gave PPS notice that it would strike, the district asked for its final best-offer, according to a statement.

Esposito-Visgitis said she thought that was a tactic to stall. She said Monday that she wanted to finish negotiations at the bargaining table.

The new agreements succeed a five-year contract that expired on June 30, 2015, according to the district. The union members operated under an extension of that contract until that expired in June 2017.

The union last went on strike 42 years ago, with the walkout lasting eight weeks. 

Sarah Schneider is WESA's education reporter. From early learning to higher education, Sarah is interested in students and educators working to create more equitable systems. Sarah previously worked with news outlets in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Idaho. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she worked for the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian.
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