Buffalo teacher’s protest for new contract

Buffalo, NY. - About 1600 teachers protested outside Buffalo City Hall Wednesday calling for a fair contact after 12 years with out a contact.

“I don’t want to go to another district. I love being a Buffalo teacher, I’ve done it for 34 years, I don’t want to go anywhere else, I believe in what I’m doing,” Blonski said.

Phil Rumore, the president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, sent a letter Tuesday advising teachers and media "although negotiations for a new contract had been going well, negotiations did not proceed well (Tuesday)". The release stated the district refused to present a counter-proposal to the current proposal and refused to sign off on proposals previously acceptable to both sides.

An all-teacher meeting at Kleinhans' Music Hall is scheduled for Monday, October 17. At that time, teachers look to be presented a new contract.

"They better come up with something before October 17," Rumore proclaimed on Niagara Square. "We expect to have a contract, and not just any contract, but a contract that's worthy of all the hard work that you (the teachers) do and all you've given up."

Rumore added that the district is currently offering teachers a ten percent increase in salary over 12 years.

"They also want us to pay ten percent of our health care which is thousands of dollars," Rumore said. "What's insulting is that when we came to the table yesterday, they didn't want to make us a counter-offer, saying it's 'too expensive'. I've got news for you, you should've been saving up for it. Make a counter-offer if you don't like it."

“I talked to a teacher the other day, she sent me an email. Thirty-three students in her kindergarten that’s not just wrong, it’s immoral,” he said.

It’s been 12 years since Buffalo school teachers had a contract.

From the message on their signs and the chanting, Buffalo teachers want smaller class sizes; they want a higher salary.

“There is a need to bring teachers’ salaries more in line with other districts but in exchange there must also be consideration that our teachers’ work day must line up with other districts as well,” Buffalo School Board President Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold responded Wednesday.

Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold says negations should include increased health insurance contributions from future employees and retirees. Although salaries must be comparable to other schools in the area, Dr. Nervergold says the difference is made up through valuable programs like health insurance, a sick day buyback program and early retirement incentives.

Superintendent Cash says there will be a solution to this issue.

“Is an agreement possible? Of course it is. Are both parties earnest? Yes we are. We’ll just roll up our sleeves and get back to the table but there has to be two way reciprocal negations that takes place,” said Cash.

Another teacher affected is Paul Heil, a social studies teacher at School 37. Heil is in his 23rd year as a professional.

"Other districts like Williamsville, Lackawanna, and Niagara Falls have all ratified new contracts that are fair and affordable," Heil explained. "You have to have a masters degree to teach in the city of Buffalo and they treat you like a second-class professional. They give you no support and no pay. That's why they have no teachers to fill the vacant spots in Buffalo."

Rumore stated in the release that if there is no new contract presented, the teachers will be "very angry".

Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

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