PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Catholic school teachers have authorized a strike if they don’t reach a new contract with the archdiocese by the end of the summer, when the current contract expires.

Though it’s still early in negotiations, Catholic Teachers Association President Rita Schwartz says her members are disturbed by the archdiocese early proposals, “Proposals that take away a number of the benefits that the teachers presently have. They’re also calling for a salary freeze.”

Schwartz represents about 800 teachers in the 17 Archdiocesan high schools. “The teachers feel basically like they and their union are being disrespected and they are saying to the union leadership, ‘fight as hard as you can.'”

“We’re very early in the contract negotiations. It’s just pretty much at the beginning of it and the Archdiocese is bargaining in good faith,” says Archdiocese spokesperson Donna Farrell.

Farrell thinks the two sides will work something out, “Our goal is to reach a mutual agreement in time for the start of the school year, so that there’s no disruption for our students, our parents and the teachers themselves.”

The current contract expires August 31st.

Reported by Lynne Adkins, KYW Newsradio 1060

Top Content On CBSPhilly

Watch & Listen LIVE