In a 14-page decision on Friday, U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny affirmed the decision of the New York State Court of Appeals last March that denied city employees contractual step increases after a wage freeze the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority imposed from April 2004 to June 2007, according to a story in the Buffalo News.
Although interim Superintendent Amber Dixon applauded the decision she said it has not affected the $42 million budget deficit for 2012-2013 school year and district has to keep funds in reserve in case the plaintiffs appeal the ruling. One of the plaintiffs the Buffalo Teachers Federation plans to appeal the decision.
Buffalo teachers continue without a contract that expired in 2004. And still there is the issue of the single carrier health insurance the district imposed in 2005 while negotiating the contract with the teachers. When the district realized the union was not going to just give up the single health carrier outside the negotiation process, it threatened and laid-off about 88 teachers that included librarians, school counselors and attendance teachers. Although many of these teachers returned to their positions and other tenure areas, a group of attendance teachers continued laid-off over a six year period only recently recalled to their former positions.
The teachers laid off during this period from 2005 to 2011 were the subject of a lawsuit involving the single health carrier insurance. An arbitrator had ruled the district must negotiate the single health carrier and reinstate the laid-off teachers with back pay. However, the Appellate Court ruled in favor of the union that the district had to negotiate the single health carrier but vacated the part involving the laid off teachers and the Appeals Court denied request to hear the case.
That the judges or the arbitrator did not know many of these teachers were contract/tenure ones does not excuse the Buffalo Board of Education from acknowledging the laid off had been a wrongful one because there had been no financial reason for the lay off of the teachers especially since the district continue to reap the profits realized from imposing the single health carrier insurance and there had been no mid-year crisis as the district alleged.
It's time the Buffalo Board of Education acknowledge this wrongful lay-off and award the teachers back pay especially now since they are in a better financial position having prevailed in the wage freeze step case on Friday.
Attendance teachers have contacted the Buffalo Teachers Federation for a meeting with President Phil Rumore to discuss the status of the back pay. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 15, at 3:30 PM at the BTF headquarters on Porter Avenue.