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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 7, 2018 10:22 AM
From: Senator Patrick J. Stefano and Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill
To: All Senate members
Subject: Returning "Ghost Teachers" to the Classroom
In the near future, Senator Phillips-Hill and I plan to jointly introduce legislation that will end the practice of “full-time union leave” for teachers, commonly referred to as “ghost teachers”.

News articles have shed light on the problem of “ghost teachers” – individuals who receive monetary compensation and benefits, including retirement benefits, from their public school employer while on leave from school employment to perform union duties. Currently, teachers unions’ collective bargaining agreements can require work arrangements—often known as official time, release time, or union leave—where school district employees are allowed to work full-time for the union, which misdirects valuable tax dollars that should be used to provide for teachers who are actually working in the classroom to educate our children.

While many school districts across Pennsylvania have release time provisions, the practice is most prevalent in Philadelphia. In fact, at least 18 public school teachers who never stepped foot in a classroom last year made more than $1.7 million from the School District of Philadelphia while doing union work on school time. Pittsburgh’s “ghost teachers” are next in line, making up to $1.02 million annually.

Further, the district has no knowledge of what these teachers are doing while on the public payroll. While records show the union is voluntarily reimbursing the district for much of these teachers’ salary and benefits, it is not obligated to do so. Moreover, the state is not entitled, nor has it received, reimbursement for its share of these teachers’ pension—costing state taxpayers more than $1 million since 2000.

This legislation will return taxpayer resources to the classroom by putting an end to the practice of “full-time union leave” and returning teachers to the classrooms, rather than working for a private organization and being paid by taxpayer dollars.

This legislation was formerly Senate Bill 494 from the 2017-18 Legislative Session, and was co-sponsored by Senators Scarnati, Mensch, Aument, Bartolotta, DiSanto, Eichelberger, Folmer, Hutchinson, Martin, Rafferty, Reschenthaler, Vogel, Vulakovich, Wagner, Ward, and White.

I sincerely hope that you will consider joining us is co-sponsoring this legislation. If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact Jake Gery in my office at jgery@pasen.gov, or Chloe Mandara in Senator Phillips-Hill’s office at cmandara@pasen.gov.

Introduced as SB702