Catholic School Teachers Ratify Contract with San Francisco Archdiocese

Members of a Bay Area Catholic schoolteachers' union ratified a new contract Wednesday with the Archdiocese of San Francisco, church officials said.

The contract extends to 2018 and covers 236 full-time teachers at four Catholic high schools, according to the archdiocese.

The schools are Archbishop Riordan High School and Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco, Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield and Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo.

Teachers and the archdiocese disputed the contract and a teacher handbook for a year because of questions about the teachers' rights under labor laws.

Diocese officials proposed wording that called teachers "ministers," putting teachers outside of the protections of the National Labor Relations Act, according to the California Federation of Teachers. The Catholic schoolteachers' union, the Archdiocesan Federation of Teachers Local 2240, is a California Federation of Teachers union.

"I'm happy that the contract dispute has been settled," said union representative Ted DeSaulnier, a teacher at Archbishop Riordan High School. "We are now in a place to more forward."

DeSaulnier said he was a strong opponent of the original contract language, but it changed.

"He changed," DeSaulnier said of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who agreed to a compromise on the contract language.

"I want to thank the union and administration negotiating teams for their hard work over the past few months in coming to this agreement," Cordileone said in a statement. "I also very much appreciate that the negotiations included a rich discussion about the mission and purpose of Catholic education and the vital role that our high school teachers play in carrying out that mission," he said.

The vote was close, union leaders said. Ninety teachers voted yes, while 80 voted no. The agreement gives teachers a 7.5 percent increase in salary over three years and extends the previous contract's health care benefits, union leaders said.

It also provides for a collective bargaining grievance process, instead of administrative fiat, for questions about teacher behavior on and off the job.

"I am very proud of our union for standing tall in support of dignity and fairness," union president Gina Jaeger said in a statement. "Now is the time to heal after a tumultuous year."

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