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Contract offers a raise and benefits cuts to Buffalo teachers

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The Buffalo school board is proposing to the teacher's union a 10% raise. In return, teachers would pick up a significant part of the cost of their health insurance and agree to longer school days and school years.

In an unusual move, the board broke an agreed-upon blackout and released its entire contract proposal and what the union is proposing during Wednesday night's board meeting.

Board member Larry Quinn says says it's a good offer and would restore management control of schools.
      
"Many workers are working more. The proposal that we proposed here was that people work about 30 hours a week for, I have to do my math, but 40 weeks. So, and we're giving them a big raise," Quinn said.

Teachers haven't had a contract in nearly 12 years and for much of that time there was a wage freeze which has put current wages well below that of surrounding districts.

Marc Bruno is a highly-visible teacher who ran for union president against Phil Rumore.

"Public hears about our cosmetic surgery rider and we're willing to give that up. That costs the district, maybe, $4 to 6 million dollars a year," Bruno said. 

"But, they've saved hundreds of millions of dollars by paying us so much less than our colleagues throughout Western New York. Like I said, if I worked in Sweet Home or Niagara Falls, I'd be making $70,000 something dollars right now and I make about $54,000."

Rumore blasted the proposal as really cutting teacher benefits and costing retired teachers, showing the board doesn't really value its teachers who show up every day and ignore what he calls insults.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.