Teaching Profession

After Lengthy Impasse, Buffalo Teachers Seeking New Labor Pact

By Denisa R. Superville — October 11, 2016 2 min read

Teachers’ union and school officials in the Buffalo, N.Y., district are hoping to hammer out a new labor agreement to replace one that expired a dozen years ago.

A new pact would bring an end to one of the longest-running labor impasses in recent memory between a school district and a teachers’ union in New York state, where public employees, including teachers, are legally barred from going on strike. It would also likely soften residual acrimony stemming from a wage freeze that ended in 2007.

Though concerns about a possible strike have grown, both the Buffalo Teachers Federation and district officials are optimistic they can reach a deal this fall without teachers walking off the job as they did in 2000.

“We are going to do our best,” said Philip Rumore, the union president, adding that he is aiming to take a new proposal to his roughly 3,600 members on Oct. 17. “I think the superintendent wants to settle this. I want to settle this. I think they realize that the teachers are angry.”

Talks broke down last month when Rumore walked away from a district proposal he called “insulting.” But last week, Kriner Cash, the superintendent of the 32,000-student district, called Rumore to restart discussions.

The union and district remain divided on a number of issues, including wage increases, extending the school day, and health-care contributions.

The district proposed a 10 percent increase in the salary schedule once the contract is approved and a 3 percent increase in 2017-18.

The union wants a larger bump, arguing that district’s proposed hike would still leave Buffalo teachers among the lowest paid in Erie County. The union also wants more money to go to veteran teachers and is not in favor of extending the school day, unless the added time includes professional development for teachers.

The district also proposed that teachers pay 10 percent of their health-insurance premiums, which the district picks up in full now.

The union doesn’t object to its members chipping in toward premiums, but balks at the use of a fixed percentage to determine the amount.

The district has also proposed removing seniority as a determining factor in staffing decisions.

Nathaniel Kuzma, the deputy general counsel for Buffalo schools, said the district’s offer was “fair, competitive, and generous.” The district has also said its proposal would have a less severe impact on the district’s $191 million surplus fund than would the union’s requests.

“We are not operating under that timeline,” Kuzma said of the union’s planned Oct. 17 meeting. “But our intention is to try to reach an agreement that is beneficial to teachers, as well as students and the community at large, as quickly as we possibly can.”

A version of this article appeared in the October 12, 2016 edition of Education Week as Labor Dispute Simmering In Buffalo, N.Y.

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession New York City Will End Controversial Absent Teacher Pool
Education department officials there announced that they will place hundreds of sidelined teachers in permanent teaching positions starting next year.
Michael Elsen-Rooney, New York Daily News
4 min read
Image of a teacher in a classroom full of kids.
Getty
Teaching Profession Teachers Walk Off the Job at Chicago’s Urban Prep
With just two weeks left to the school year, teachers went on strike over what they say is a lack of support for special education students.
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
Images shows hand drawn group of protestors.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Compassion Fatigue Is Overwhelming Educators During the Pandemic
Educators need acknowledgment and healing while dealing with their own and others' grief. Here’s what administrators can do to help.
Shayla Ewing
5 min read
Illustration of empty shirt and cloud
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession Is It Time to Relax Teacher Dress Codes?
After teaching at home in comfortable clothes, some school and district leaders support casual attire for teachers returning to classrooms.
4 min read
Illustration of clothes on hangers
Getty