Teachers strike at 4 Bronx Catholic schools

THE BRONX - Teachers at four Bronx Catholic schools took to the picket lines Monday in a union's ongoing contract fight with the New York Archdiocese.The Federation of Catholic Teachers union authorized strikes at St. Barnabas High School, St. Thomas Aquinas, Our Lady of Assumption and St. Philip Neri. Teachers from four schools in Staten Island and Manhattan also stayed clear of classrooms.Teachers holding signs and chanting outside of St. Barnabas High School told News 12 The Bronx they're picketing out of desperation. "Our hope is that the archdiocese will do what's right and that we won't have to do this," said teacher Vicky Graham. "Our students matter more to us."

Pay and health benefits remain sticking points between the union and archdiocese. The teachers have been working without a contract since the beginning of this year and claim that the archdiocese is withholding documents that are essential to negotiations. Last week, the union filed an unfair labor practices charge.

However, the archdiocese has said it released the papers.

Last week, another Catholic teachers' union, the Lay Faculty Association, voted to authorize a strike during Pope Benedict XVI's visit in less than two weeks if an agreement is not reached by then.

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