Progressives in Philly teachers' union prepare to challenge current president

Mike DeNardo
November 08, 2019 - 4:00 am
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The progressive wing of Philadelphia's teachers' union has introduced its slate of candidates to run against longtime president Jerry Jordan's team.  

The faction known as the Caucus of Working Educators lost a 2016 challenge to Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan by more than 2 to 1. But things are different now, says presidential candidate Kathleen Melville, a 15-year teacher on sabbatical from the Workshop School. 

She says wins by grassroots contingents in other cities have galvanized her camp.

"We've been incredibly inspired by the work that has happened in Chicago and Los Angeles, where caucuses very similar to the Caucus of Working Educators have been elected to leadership of the union and they have radically transformed the way that the union operates," she said.

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The teachers' contract expires next August and with the district no longer under state control, the union once again has the right to strike. 

Jordan, who has led the union for the last 11 years, says experience matters.

"The negotiating table is no place for a novice," Jordan said. "And I believe that experience does make a difference."

The executive board hasn't set a date, but the union election is expected to be scheduled for early next year.

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CORRECTION: The Caucus of Working Educators lost their 2016 challenge to Jerry Jordan by more than 2 to 1.