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Pittsburgh Teachers, District Reach Tentative Agreement, Averting Strike

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Tuesday's marathon negotiating session has resulted in a tentative agreement to avert a teachers' strike in the Pittsburgh Public Schools District.

After 14-hours of negotiations, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and the district announced just before midnight that they had come to a tentative three-year agreement.

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visgitis said a notice has gone out to their 3,000 members, letting them know that the strike has been canceled.

"We are pleased to announce we have reached tentative agreements on all three of our contracts," she said. "We have a few things to sign off on [Wednesday], so we're very happy about that. We will take it back to our executive board to approve, and then to our membership for informational meetings and to vote on it. So, we're really glad the strike has been canceled."

After the meeting wrapped up, Pittsburgh Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet said:

"The good news is, we've come to a tentative agreement. We've got to wait till the information gets out, we've got to make sure everything is ratified first by both sides, and then specifics will come out. But the good part about it, there will be no work stoppage. So, our commitment to the community and to our students is that we will stay here until we got it done today. We got it done, we're excited, we're happy 'cause we want to move forward."

Esposito-Visgitis says there was a big factor pushing both sides to get something done.

"I really do think it was a determination to get it done for the students and parents of the city," she said.

Talks began Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. with members of the teachers' and district's bargaining teams. The teachers' union gave notice on Monday afternoon that they would start walking the picket lines Friday morning if there was no agreement reached.

Dr. Hamlet said the sticking point was over whether principals would have final say over assigning teachers. He said they should, but the teachers' union disagreed.

But the union president said she wanted solutions for several key issues such as salary and health care concerns. Plus, the teachers transferring between schools.

Contract negotiations have been going on for a year and a half. It has been more than four decades since teachers in the Pittsburgh Public Schools District have left the classroom for the picket lines.

Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.

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