Philadelphia teachers' union files court motions in bid to seek contract cancellation reversal

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PHILADELPHIA — The union representing Philadelphia teachers says it has filed several court motions in its bid to reverse the School Reform Commission's cancellation of its contract.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan said in a statement that the 15,000-member union filed a request for declaratory relief in Commonwealth Court after the commission's Oct. 6 action.

But he said the union Friday filed court documents arguing that the case does not belong in that court and the state Department of Education should not be a party in the dispute. Jordan said the issue should be heard by the Court of Common Pleas, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations board or a labor arbitrator.

About 3,000 union members and supporters rallied at the school district headquarters Thursday to protest the commission's action.

The crowd shut down part of Broad Street after gathering outside the first meeting of the School Reform Commission following its sudden action last week that forces members to start paying health premiums of as much as $140 a month.

District officials said they had no choice after funding woes that have prompted nearly $1 billion in cuts, including the loss of 5,000 positions and the closure of 30 schools.

Patrick Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Labor Council, AFL-CIO, said union leaders would await the outcome of court action, but if the decision is not reversed he vowed "We will turn this city upside down."

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