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Court victory for Buffalo teachers could finally mean new contract

WBFO News File Photo

After a major negotiations victory, the head of the Buffalo Teachers Federation said there could be a contract in time for a mass meeting of teachers in September.

An administrative law judge said the school board bargained in bad faith in talks with the BTF.

"I'm hopeful now that the superintendent and the board after going through all of this and seeing exactly, this has got to be a big embarrassment to the district," said Phil Rumore, President of the BTF.

The Public Employment Relations Board decision ordered the two sides to start talks again, using proposals from 2011. It's a complicated decision based on school board bargainer Terry O'Neill introducing proposals after the two sides were locked into fact-finding.

"Let's put this behind us and let's move on. We're willing to do that and hopefully the board is," Rumore said.

The last contract between the two sides expired in 2004. School Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold declined comment until she had a chance to talk to the board's lawyers about the PERB decision.

"We're not asking for the moon but we are asking to be treated just like everybody else has been treated all around us and also in the big cities," said Rumore, noting that the salaries for Buffalo teachers continue to lag behind because of a pay freeze.

The Buffalo Public School District issued a brief written response to the decision from the District's General Counsel Ed Betz:  

"The District is in receipt of the PERB ruling, but has not had opportunity to fully review it.  The District looks forward to continuing to negotiate with the Buffalo Teachers Federation, in good faith, a contract that is in the best interest of our students and teachers."

New York State United Teachers President Karen E. Magee also issued a statement following a ruling the PERB ruling.

“Phil Rumore has been a lion in fighting for students and his members in the Buffalo Teachers Federation. He has consistently kept the needs of the city’s school children at the forefront, even as he has advocated strenuously for a fair agreement that reflects the challenges and demands facing Buffalo educators. PERB’s ruling — won with the unwavering support and expertise of NYSUT’s legal team — reinforces the importance of good-faith negotiations. Moving forward, we hope PERB’s decision can serve as a springboard to a fair contract that is good for the city, good for BTF members and, most of all, supports the teaching and learning that will help Buffalo city schools thrive. After 12 years, it’s about time," said Magee.


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.