Everyone take notice of who the attorney for the plaintiffs is. Like all good unions, be sure to keep it in the family. Right, Mike Milz?
WILKES-BARRE – A Luzerne County judge on Monday issued five orders directing that money awarded in arbitration hearings be paid to teachers who were terminated when local Catholic schools were consolidated.
Luzerne County Senior Judge Chester Muroski said in the orders that teachers of Bishop O’Reilly, St. Vincent’s School, Bishop O’Reilly Junior High School, Bishop Hafey and Bishop Hoban, will receive money owed to them in a lawsuit.
A hearing, in response to court papers filed by education associations of each respective school to confirm the awards, was held Monday inside Muroski’s chambers for attorneys to argue why the arbitration awards should or should not be distributed. Muroski ruled that each of the schools’ board of pastors is directed to “promptly comply (with) the terms of the award forthwith.”
Attorney Martin Milz represented plaintiffs. The diocese was represented by attorney Richard Goldberg.
A timeline on the actual dispensing of money was unknown Monday.
According to court papers, teachers who were employed at Bishop Hoban High School are owed over $700,000.
It is estimated the total amount for arbitration awards will exceed $1 million.
The arbitration awards stem from complaints filed by the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers, which had represented some teachers until 2006, when then-Bishop Joseph Martino restructured the entire Catholic school system, eliminating local school boards and parish councils the union had dealt with.
The union asked to represent teachers under the new system of four regional school boards, but was rejected.
The diocese opted to start an “Employee Relations Program” it repeatedly insists gives all school employees fair representation.
The union argued the contracts teachers had before restructuring guaranteed that teachers who lost their jobs during the restructuring were eligible for accumulated sick leave and severance pay. The union filed grievances and says that, since May 2008, separate arbitration hearings were held for the teachers.
Several arbitrators ruled in favor of the teachers in October 2008 and ordered the diocese to immediately start paying the teachers, but the diocese had not done so, prompting a hearing Monday, where attorneys argued the matter of payment.
The diocese had previously said it intended to honor the awards but was not sure where the money will come from. Financial struggles were a key reason given when the school restructuring was done, closing many area buildings.