This morning I happened to hear Interim Superintendent Darren Brown spreading a wagonload on WBEN radio. Not a surprise by any means to hear administration and/or the favorite radio station of bowel obstructed tea-tirees trying to create their own version of reality. To wit, Mr. Brown, when asked about contract negotiations was quick to mention Terry O'Neil's hiring and insisted that negotiations are a high priority. So far no foul. Pressed to predict how the district's offers are being received I believe Brownie tried to pull a fast one. Well it's hard to say, says he, we hear different things from the teachers than we hear from the union... And unless you're a goddamned idiot you just heard management trying to drive a wedge and create the illusion that the union is not looking out for the teachers. Take it a step further and you can pretend the teachers would surely settle and be glad for their bushel of apples, half a cord of firewood and a left hook they've been offered but you know that old snake in the grass Rumore, always crying foul, crying poverty, acting insulted at the Board's magnanimous and benevolent offers. Straight talk: I voted for Pat Foster not Phil. But Phil won and I guess if I'm any kind of a silver lining guy I'm not really feeling too bad about now that Phil is handling the situation. If you read any of the hallucinatory miasma wafting out of the Buffalo News editorial outhouse -- yes folks, go figure, another major local media outlet who has major wood for Buffalo teachers -- you know they tried desperately to spin the district's punch in the crotch offer into some kind of high minded cosmetic shiatsu. Phil Rumore sat down and took the News to school for their lame attempt to paint us once again as the overstuffed, underworked, pampered ingrates that they insist we are. In a word he pantsed them as only an old union warhorse can do. I mentioned the other day that we might consider once again putting aside our notions about which teachers know who the best Superintendent should be and remember we are on the same team. This team is being offered an insulting contract. If you are among those who say things like Well, you know, in the private sector... I kindly request you resign your position and go find one in the private sector where you won't mind being bitchslapped and outsourced by your employer. If on the other hand though, you understand the Herculean task Buffalo teachers face and embrace every day, I ask that you stand firm and stand together until we get to where we need to be. In the meantime read Phil's piece and see for yourself why it's important that we avoid caving into outside agitators: Again, The News misrepresents the facts.
Under the current Board proposal, some teachers would actually earn less salary after they pay for their healthcare.
The average base salary increase for 2015-2018 is 3.5% minus the 20% teachers must pay for their healthcare.
The Board’s salary offer is an average of only nine-tenths of a percent (.9%) per year when you include the 11 years that Buffalo teachers have been without a new contract and they will now have to pay 20% of their healthcare amounting to approximately $3,600 per year for some..
If that isn’t bad enough, the Board further decreases its salary proposal by increasing the school year by 2.2% plus the school day by 12.2% (14.4% total increase) putting the Board’s proposal below a 0% increase.
Also, not mentioned by The News were the 17% reduction of sick days (usually at least one of your 30 or 150 students has a cold); mandating seeing a doctor on the day you are ill; increasing prescription co-pays from $5/$10 to $10/$25/$40; increasing teaching periods from 5 to 6 periods (20% increase); and the withdrawal of arbitrations and other BTF legal victories that would cost the District over $20,000,000.
As a further insult to Buffalo Teachers, this Board’s offer is $16,000,000 less than the Board’s last offer. A subsequent offer was withdrawn as a result of an Improper Practice Charge filed by the BTF.
Yes, this, plus other detrimental proposals, is what the Board is demanding of Buffalo teachers who work under some of the most difficult conditions and who are already $20,000, yes, $20,000 behind their colleagues in surrounding and other city school districts.
Yet, The News characterizes the District’s offer “as the starting point for serious negotiations”.
In an incredible statement, The News first refers to “work rules that have prevented significant progress in improving educational outcomes”. Then, in the next sentence The News states “Some of those antiquated requirements are almost laughable, including a smoking room in each school, a vending machine for each school’s staff use only, access to outside telephones and a requirement that notices be posted on a bulletin board”!
Besides the fact that with our agreement there haven’t been pay phones or smoking rooms in schools for years, that The News makes a statement linking these obsolete items to educational outcomes is bizarre.
While Buffalo teachers have come to expect these distortions, we hope the public will also see through them.
Philip Rumore, President Buffalo Teachers Federation, Inc.