Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, November 20, 2015

Does The Buffalo School District Really Think Teachers Will Go For This?

From the Buffalo News:

After years of failed attempts to negotiate a new contract with the Buffalo Teachers Federation, the School Board is now taking its latest offer directly to teachers.

The move underscores a lack of faith that negotiations are headed toward any kind of resolution, and suggests the district could be close to pulling the plug on talks with an outside mediator. That would put the district in uncharted waters, and some have already suggested the issue will likely wind up in court.

In a letter emailed to teachers Thursday, the board attempts to make the case for contractual changes it is seeking. The most significant include:

• Increasing the school day from six hours and 50 minutes to seven hours and 30 minutes.

• Increasing the number of work days from 186 to 189 each year.

• Requiring teachers to pay 12 percent of their health insurance premium, as opposed to paying nothing now.

• Allowing principals to transfer and assign teachers based on educational needs, not seniority.

• A 10 percent salary increase for teachers, plus an additional 1 percent each of the next three years.

“Without the changes the District has proposed, a system of failure will simply be perpetuated, and the consequences of continuous failure could be devastating,” the board’s letter states.

The decision to take its offer directly to teachers is the latest turn in a lengthy and contentious negotiation process to revamp a contract that expired more than a decade ago. Attorney Terry O’Neil, who is negotiating for the district, said board members do not believe union leaders are accurately relaying their offers to teachers and wanted to present the information themselves.

“We went to the teachers and said ‘Here are the options, just so you know,’ ” he said.

These are the "options"?

Longer school day, longer school year, loss of seniority rights and paying 12% of health care?

Dunno about all the teachers teachers in Buffalo, but my response to a "Fuck You!" proposal like this would be "Fuck you too!"

The 1% "increase (10% + 1% for each additional year over the next three) is more than eaten away by the health care costs and the extra time/work.

This is what the district went around the union to offer to teachers?

Uh, thanks, but no thanks.

Seems many teachers in Buffalo feel the same:

Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore said his office had been fielding calls all day from teachers angry about the board’s letter.

“The letter outraged the teachers,” Rumore said. “It was like rubbing salt into an open wound.”

Buffalo teachers are working under the longest expired contract in history.

The district, backed by the powers that be, are offering a "Fuck you!" contract in order to continue the logjam in negotiations, giving them the excuse to take the mess to court and try and circumvent the Triborough Agreement:

Some have already suggested the case could end up in court and test the Taylor Law, the state statute that sets rules for municipalities when bargaining with civil service and teacher unions. Many argue that the law and its accompanying Triborough Amendment – which allows for expired contract terms to remain in effect until a new deal is reached – have long given these unions a clear edge in negotiations.

“This is a perfect illustration of how the combination of the Taylor Law and the Triborough Amendment can create problems,” O’Neil said. “We’ll have to assess where we’re headed and whether we’re headed for litigation.”

So this battle in Buffalo is something to watch statewide, not only for how the contract negotiations play out but also to see if there is a weakening of the Triborough Agreement that maintains expired contracts in effect until a new contract deal is agreed upon.

I wouldn't be too surprised if that isn't the ultimate goal of the powers that be here - to weaken Triborough while maintaining the punitive Taylor Law that punishes municipal unions for striking.


  1. No Tribourough Law means no Taylor Law which means teachers would be able to strike without penalty. There is no way that the school district will win this in court. Triborough/Taylor Law are fundamental aspects of civil service work in New York State. It would have to be ablolished for all public sector service workers, not just Buffalo teachers.

  2. Constantly there are stories about taking away from people who are hard working individuals. We now live in a society where we are constantly dealing with take aways and instead of going forward and advancing it certainly has become the opposite which is to regress and take away. The teaching profession has become a laughing stock of a career and a career working as an electrician or plumber now is certainly far superior than a teacher with a masters degree....

  3. They are scapegoating teachers . That in of itself should make this a nonstarter.

  4. This is clearly an Unfair Labor Practice (not that so-called reformers care about that), since the union is bargaining representative for the teachers in Buffalo, and all contract proposals must be made at the negotiating table.

    It appears this is an yet step in re-configuring/destroying the public schools in Buffalo, setting the stage for mass Receivership of the city's schools which can only be done by busting the union.

    And where, pray tell, is our "solutions-driven" mis-leader from Washington in all this, and her NYSUT oath-signers?

  5. All the comments, above, quite true.

    I would only point out that the City of Buffalo is doing what it learned from Randi Weingarten and the UFT in the now-infamous 2005 contract.

    Give backs: loss of seniority rights (which resulted in the explosion of the number of ATRs), Extended Time (which is now the basis for suicide-inducing PDs), right to grieve Letter in File, loss of the two days before Labor Day (recovered, but at the cost of reducing the return on TDA from 8.25% to 7.00%).

    Raises: 2%-3.5%-5.5%-3.25%.

    Yeah, give-backs a little different, salary increase a little different.

    I don't think that when Ralph Chaplin of the IWW wrote the anthem in 1915 that he meant "Solidarity Forever Between the Teacher's Union in One Big City in New York with the Management of the School System in Another Big City in New York."

  6. I can't say I understand why they are upset about having to pay part of their health insurance costs. That's commonplace in districts around where I teach. I don't feel like they're doing themselves any favors by complaining about that. It looks kind of bad. Most workers do contribute to health insurance costs. I understand why they are upset about some of the other stuff, but that particular argument seems silly to me.

    1. They're offered a 13% raise but trading more time, more days and 12% of their health care costs to get it, which eats away the entire "raise" and perhaps even more.

      Nothing silly about arguing against paying toward health care costs -once the door is opened to that the costs go up each contract and continue to whittle away whatever "raises" you get.

    2. That 13% is actually spread out over the past 12 and the next 4 years. So it's 13% over 16 years and when you factor in the longer days and longer years plus the givebacks on health care and personal days you are working more with fewer personal days for less money. Can we talk about what's "silly" now?

  7. A seven and a half hour day means that I would take almost no work home. All grading, lesson planning,etc. would be done during the day.

    1. The longer work day will not be used for grading, lesson planning, etc. It will be used for increased class time and PD.

  8. Any work in excess of 40 hours is overtime, with an expectation of overtime pay. Theoretically, I might agree to work a half an hour at home, but no more without extra pay. i believe it is illegal to for an employer to require anything else.


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