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Philadelphia School Officials Say Concession Talks With Custodians Are ‘Paused’

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(George Ricchezza, head of District 1201 of SEIU Local 32BJ, at a recent union protest.  Credit: Mike DeNardo)

(George Ricchezza, head of District 1201 of SEIU Local 32BJ, at a recent union protest. Credit: Mike DeNardo)

Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
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By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The leader of the Philadelphia school district’s custodians’ union says concession talks have broken down.

But the district says they’re simply “on hold.”

George Ricchezza (in photo), head of the blue-collar workers’ union, says he thought the union had “some kind of agreement” last Friday on millions in job-saving concessions.  But he says the district cut off talks on Tuesday.

“We waited Friday, Monday, no response.  We contacted them.  At that point they told us that there would be no agreement with Local 32BJ District 1201, and they were going to move forward with privatization and layoffs,” Ricchezza said today.

But school district spokesman Fernando Gallard says no decisions have been made, and the district is just waiting to see how much money is coming from City Council (see related stories).

“We have paused negotiations,” Gallard tells KYW Newsradio.  “We put them on hold just to give us enough time to understand what our funding situation is going to be.”

Twenty-seven hundred school aides, bus drivers, and maintenance workers have already received layoff notices, and they’re waiting to see if their jobs will exist next month.

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