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Buffalo teachers union wins arbitration on teacher transfers

Pre-schoolers at the Stanley Makowski Early Childhood Center
WBFO News fil photo
Pre-schoolers at the Stanley Makowski Early Childhood Center

By Eileen Buckley


Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Teachers Federation won an arbitration ruling this week. The arbitrator ruled that the Buffalo Schools superintendent violated the teachers contract by denying voluntary transfers.

Schools superintendent Dr. James Willliams is not pleased with the decision.

"I think it is very disappointing. I think the arbitrator did not understand," said Williams.

In March of 2010 more than 500 city school teachers applied for the transfers to other schools. Last summer Williams denied the requests. At the time Williams said there was too much uncertainty looming with a late New York State budget. But Wednesday Williams said there are too many teacher asking to be moved.

Williams said every year the district receives 500-700 transfer requests.

"That's not fair to students. I have the authority to assign staff, so the arbitrator ruling, the way I interpret it was based on past practices. Now this year we have 700 requests for transfers. That's ridiculous," said Williams

The arbitrator noted that the teacher transfers have been part of past practice dating back to 1967 as part of the union's contract. The ruling now directs the district to allow 50-100 teachers who applied to be moved to the jobs they requested.

BTF president Phil Rumore said the union warned the district that it would seek arbitration, and that it would be required to grant the transfers to the teachers.

"We warned them but they chose confrontation," said Rumore.

But Williams is now threatening to appeal the ruling.

"I'm not supporting that ruling, and we are going to look at all the legal proceedings to not do it because we need to stabilize this system because we are dealing the poorest and neediest children that need the best teachers on a consistent basis. I'm not going to sit back and just let it go Now I might lose, but at least I voiced my opinion about it," said Williams.

Williams said believes its time to change so called 1960 rules stated in union contract.