Catholic Teachers Union members at four southern New Jersey high schools on Sunday authorized the union's executive board to call for job actions - up to and including a strike - if no contract agreement is reached by Oct. 15.

The members also rejected the diocese's latest offer, according to a release issued by the union Sunday afternoon.

Teachers at Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, Sacred Heart High School in Vineland, Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill and Paul VI High School in Haddon Township, as well as special education teachers in the Camden Diocese, have been working under a contract extension since Aug. 31.

The two sides have made some progress, but salaries and benefits are still unresolved. The union is asking for 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent increases on top of step increases over a two-year contract. The diocese is offering a step increase only. The diocese also wants newly hired teachers to contribute 5 percent to their insurance premium costs.