More sickouts possible at Bronx Catholic schools as contract negotiations continue

(01/09/05) RIVERDALE - Friday's sickouts at four Bronx Catholic schools may only be the beginning. A teacher at Riverdale's Saint Margaret of Cortona Elementary School says a strike there could be next.

Nine of the school's teachers did not show up for work on Friday amidst more news of stalled contract negotiations. Patricia Hund says she and fellow teachers followed union recommendations after picketing sessions before and after school did not get the attention of the archdiocese. She says the pay and benefits increases teachers are demanding are necessary to pay the bills.

In order to resolve the situation, the archdiocese must strike a deal acceptable to two separate teachers unions. One of them, the Lay Faculty Association, is set to sit down with church leaders this Friday. The other union is the Federation of Catholic Teachers.

Meanwhile, archdiocese leaders report that they plan to continue to rely on substitute teachers and parent volunteers to fill in should there be any more sickouts at Bronx Catholic schools.

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