Catholic teachers strike imminent as contract talks fail

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It is likely Catholic high school teachers will go on strike during the papal visit next week after another failed attempt at contract negotiations.

Union officials from the Lay Faculty Association say they came to the bargaining table Thursday night with a compromise. According to a union spokesman, the teachers made an offer to cut the original contract package, which would have cost the Archdiocese of New York $1.4 million. However, the archdiocese rejected it, leaving the two sides foundering over $19,000 worth of differences. Salary and health coverage have been the main causes of negotiation struggles.

Teachers from 10 New York-area Catholic high schools are poised to strike next week, including Maria Regina in Hartsdale, Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains, JFK in Somers and John S. Burke in Goshen. The strike is scheduled to coincide with Pope Benedict XVI?s New York visit.

Union leader Henry Kielkucki says while the teachers don't want to disrupt the pope's visit, they do have permits to demonstrate at Saint Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers where the pope will visit next Saturday. Kielkucki says they haven't decided if they will picket there.

The teachers have been without a contract since August 2007. They earn an average of $45,000 a year, about 30 percent less than their public school colleagues.Teachersstage sickout at 3 Catholic schoolsCatholicschool teachers threaten strike for pope's visit

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