Strike possible as Catholic teachers reject contract

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The union representing area Catholic high school teachers says it won?t accept the New York Archdiocese?s latest contract offer by Friday?s deadline, which could mean a strike.

Last month, the Archdiocese of New York told the Lay Faculty Association, which represents teachers in Hartsdale, White Plains, Somers and Goshen, that it had to sign a deal by Aug. 15. If not, the archdiocese says teachers could lose a retroactive pay raise and another increase for September.

Union officials say they have no intention of complying with the deadline, as the archdiocese?s offer raises health care costs. The offer does include more money, however.

The teachers have been without a contract for almost a year.

"They can threaten all they want, but if they follow on this threat it's going to be a chaotic, chaotic school year,? Henry Kielkucki, of the Lay Faculty Association, says.

"It's not a threat,? says the archdiocese?s Joe Zwilling. ?We want to reach an agreement. One year has already gone by and our schools need to be able to plan. They need to be able to move forward."

Last January, the union staged a sickout and then went on strike when the pope visited in April. Union officials say they plan to boycott or picket Cardinal Egan?s Labor Day Mass.

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