|Contact:||Sunny Mindel / Michael Anton
"The United Federation of Teachers' statement today that negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement are at an impasse is premature.
"The City, the Board of Education, and the UFT have put numerous complex issues on the table for bargaining, and we have made progress. The City and the Board have moved from their initial position and made good faith efforts to achieve an agreement. The City and the Board have withdrawn several demands, including those related to wage deferrals and payroll lags. Indeed, considerable progress was made today when the City and the Board modified several demands. These modifications were described as very helpful by the UFT President. Through continued efforts, we are confident that further progress could be made, ultimately resulting in a collective bargaining agreement.
"For its part, the UFT has dropped only three of its more than 25 demands and has stated that they will seek legislation on issues with enormous economic impact--including class size and the building of additional schools.
"In recognition of the complexity of the issues, all parties decided at the bargaining table to break down the issues and negotiate many professional and technical issues on a subcommittee basis. The City and the Board submitted many new proposals to the UFT through these subcommittees. But the UFT is threatening to declare an impasse when these subcommittees have met only twice--barely enough meetings to allow the parties to identify the issues of concern to them. Even with this limited number of meetings, however, significant progress was made: the City and the Board modified several of their initial demands, and have responded to many of the UFT demands. The UFT has indicated they are reviewing the Board's proposals and will respond to many of the proposals. This hardly amounts to an impasse.
"Furthermore, for teachers alone, the Union continues to propose wage increases of approximately 25%. This increase does not include proposals for additional economic incentives for recruitment and retention, as well as salary differentials that would also apply to teachers, nor does it include wage or other economic proposals as to other titles covered by the UFT contract.
"Assuming the City and the Board of Education settled with the UFT by agreeing to the demands presented for teachers alone, without including the additional economic demands included in their package, the cost to the City if it were to adopt a similar package for other City employees would be $4.3 billion.
"Because the UFT wage proposal does not capture the cost of many additional economic proposals presented by the Union, the real total is substantially greater, both with respect to the UFT contract--and, more significantly, to the entire city workforce.
"The best resolution for any collective bargaining agreement can only be reached across the table. It is unfortunate that the UFT has chosen to remove this process from the forum in which these matters are best resolved."