Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

One-year anniversary of the elimination of Catholic teachers union rally held in Scranton

02.20.09

February 2009 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

One-year anniversary of the elimination of Catholic teachers union rally held in Scranton

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

SCRANTON, January 24th- Members of the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers (SDACT) Union were joined by regional labor union members, political leaders, representatives from the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg and other supporters, for a rally in front of the rectory of the Diocese of Scranton to mark the one year anniversary the union was busted by Bishop Joseph Martino.

The union represented the teachers of seventeen of the fourty-two grade schools and nine of the ten high schools of the Scranton Diocese until Bishop Martino restructured the system in 2007. The new system eliminated the small school boards and created four regional boards. SDACT previously had contracts with each Board of Pastors that represented each school. Bishop Martino implemented a “Employee Relations Program,” after he busted the union.

Around 200 attended the rally, including State Representative 121st Legislative District Eddie Day Pashinski of Luzerne County and State Representative 113th Legislative District Kevin Murphy of Lackawanna County. Mr. Pashinski announced at the rally he would introduce House Bill 26, that would amend the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act (PLRAct) to cover religious school employees under the law.

Bishop Martino would not recognize SDACT as the teachers bargaining representative and refused to negotiate for a new labor contract agreement when the previous pact expired. He cited the PLRAct has no jurisdition and therefore the Diocese of Scranton could simply ignore the desire of the teachers to be represented by the union. Representative Murphy told the newspaper he supports the legislation and will become a co-signer of the bill.

If the legislation is passed, parochial school employees would be able to file Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges against their employers for violating the PLRAct.

According to Michael Milz, President of SDACT, which has a office on the O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, they gathered in front of the rectory on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton where Bishop Martino resides, to show him and the public the union is not going away and will continue to push for the right to represent the teachers.

SDACT has not represented the workers since August 2007. SDACT now has 22 active members employed by the Diocese of Scranton at St. Michael’s School in Tunkhannock, a school for troubled young people. The current five year contract agreement with the Diocese will expire in August 2009.

Mr. Milz told the newspaper, officials of the Diocese of Scranton have indicated they will negotiate with the union for a successor agreement for the members employed at St. Michael’s. No meetings are currently scheduled however.

The rally comes on the heals of the announcement of multible arbitration victories by SDACT for the failure of the Diocese to pay wages owed to former union members under the terms and conditions of the previous contract agreements.

Michael Milz estimates the overall costs to the Scranton Diocese for their failure to pay union teachers what was owed to them could be more than $2 million.

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