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No Talks Set in Teacher-Contract Dispute in N.Y.C.

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The defeat of a proposed five-year contract by members of the United Federation of Teachers has left the union snarled in a verbal tug of war with the New York City school administration.

Chancellor Rudy F. Crew has received the school board's authorization to declare an impasse in negotiations with the city's teachers, a move that could open the door to outside mediation.

"It is clear that there is very little, if any, room for movement on the part of the parties to this contract," Mr. Crew said in a Dec. 20 statement.

Yet, the union has refused to call the situation an impasse, saying last week that the two sides had not attempted negotiations since the contract was shot down Dec. 7. (See Education Week, Dec. 13, 1995.)

"We don't have anything on the board to talk about [for there to be an impasse]," said union spokesman Ron Davis.

Aides to both the chancellor and uft President Sandra Feldman confirmed that the two had met briefly on Jan. 3 but had not attempted further negotiations.

If both sides agree they're at an impasse, according to the union, the factions would then turn to an impartial fact-finder to make nonbinding recommendations that would form the basis for a new round of negotiations. Ultimately, union leaders say, the city would have to return to the bargaining table so that the parties could agree to binding arbitration.

Under state law, teachers can continue to work under the terms of the existing contract indefinitely.

Administrator Raises

The agreement rejected by the union rank and file last month would have boosted pay and benefits by 13 percent over five years while freezing wages for the first two years

In explaining the unprecedented defeat of a contract agreement negotiated by uft leaders, Ms. Feldman said teachers were angry at having to wait two years for a raise when Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani had proposed salary increases for himself and his top administrators.

Teachers were further angered after the vote when the chancellor raised the salaries of top school administrators by an average of 7 percent. And, according to the union, Mr. Crew has also raised the possibility of teacher layoffs in the coming year.

The defeated contract would have protected teachers from layoffs for three years.

Elsewhere in the schools, debate has continued on a proposal within the contract that would have relieved teachers of nonteaching tasks such as cafeteria duty.

The mayor had raised eyebrows with his proposal to train welfare recipients for those jobs.

Donald Singer, the president of the city's Council of Supervisors and Administrators, wrote in a Dec. 15 letter to his members that such an arrangement would have disrupted safety and security in the schools.

"Even professionals with years of special training in child development," he wrote, "can be sorely tested by the everyday problems that arise."

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