Archdiocese gives Catholic teachers final ultimatum

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The New York Archdiocese wants Catholic school teachers to approve a contract by Aug. 15 or it plans to rescind the offer.

Lay Faculty Association members believe the letter written by Sister Patricia Anastasio, an associate superintendent for teacher personnel, goes too far.

"It's a tactic of threatening and bullying and it's meant to instill fear. We have a right to get information and a right to fight for a just wage," said Charles Chesnavage, who's been teaching religion at Cardinal Hayes High School for 14 years. "The ? Catholic schools in the archdiocese [look] like [they're] going bankrupt."

Teachers at 10 New York Catholic schools, including four local facilities, went on strike in April. They cited salary caps and a 10 percent health contribution as sticking points.

Only 48 out of hundreds of unionized teachers voted down the deal in June.

"We think the entire union membership should have the opportunity to vote on it through a secret mail ballot. We don't know why they won't let all their membership vote on it," the archdiocese said in a statement.

However, the union isn't considering that option. "The archdiocese cannot dictate when, where and how we are going to vote," said Lay Faculty Association leader Henry Kielkucki.

School starts in a little more than a month, and parents are hoping a resolution is reached.

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