Press Pass: What’s next for BTF leader?
Now that the Buffalo School District and Buffalo Teachers Federation resolved a lengthy contract dispute, what's next for the long-time union leader? In this week's Press Pass, Buffalo News Education Reporter Tiffany Lankes tells WBFO's Eileen Buckley that BTF President Phil Rumore is reviewing his options.
Long time BTF leader
Rumore's union leadership for teachers in the city of Buffalo has spanned decades.
"He's been in that post for 35 years. He's one of the longest sitting teacher union presidents in the state," stated Lankes. "There's been a lot of speculation, even prior to the contract getting settled, of whether he would step down and retire."
BTF Election in 2017
Rumore will be up for re-election in May of 2017.
"He would like to spend the next few years really focused on these kinds of programs with the district and maybe building a stronger succession plan for the BTF," Lankes said. "I think that is one of the concerns that teachers have that Phil has been 'large and in charge' for so long. There's no clear successor."
Maybe another run or succession plan?
Lankes said it appears Rumore might go for another re-election run for the top leadership seat, but his plan could include running some allies he could groom for future leadership.
"Even if Phil runs, he had two challengers in the last election in 2015. It's widely expected that he will have challengers again," Lankes noted.
Salary-step affects on teachers
But will Rumore find a divide between teachers and support in a reelection bid following the newly approved contract? Lankes pointed out the new teachers contract could help or hurt Rumore in a future re-election bid. While the longer-term teachers benefited with the new contract, the younger generation of teachers feel left out.
"You hear disagreement at different experiences of teachers. Those in the middle of the salary schedule — you hear more frustration from them," said Lankes. "They feel like they didn't get as much. There's a lot of ill feelings of the fact they couldn't negotiate the restoration of steps lost during the wage freeze. On the flip side, you look at who stands to gain the most and it's the teachers that are at the top of the scale."
Lankes said maximum pay those those long-term teachers could climb to $97,000 and they will get a bump to help in their future pension. She noted teachers have mixed feelings.
When will Rumore decide on his future?
Lankes said Rumore has not given any indication of when he will decide whether to launch a a reelection run. But Lankes speculates that toward the end of this year, and into January, we should begin hearing about the BTF elections with potential candidates. She noted Rumore has dedicated his life to the union and teachers.
"People say he's not going to go easily," Lankes remarked.