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Arbitrator rules Buffalo School Board can’t get rid of cosmetic surgery rider without negotiations

An arbitrator with the Public Employment Relations Board has ordered the Buffalo School Board not to eliminate the cosmetic surgery rider from the teacher union contract without first negotiating it with the union.

Michael Lewandowski determined last week that elimination of the rider without negotiations would violate the collective bargaining agreement with the Buffalo Teachers Federation.

“While it is understandable that the parties may be frustrated by their long-standing failed attempts to reach agreement on a successor collective bargaining agreement, I find that the facts before me, the collective bargaining agreement and the Taylor Law do not permit one of the parties to unilaterally change the terms of a collective bargaining agreement,” Lewandowski wrote.

This past June, the Buffalo School Board voted to eliminate the $5 million cosmetic surgery rider, a proposal brought to the table by members of the departing board majority. The board’s intention was to redirect the money to programs that have a direct impact on students.

But later that month, State Supreme Court Justice Tracey A. Bannister placed a temporary restraining order against the Buffalo School Board, preventing it from eliminating the cosmetic provision without first negotiating with the BTF.

BTF President Philip Rumore said he hopes the district will abide by the arbitrator’s decision.

“It is truly pathetic that we should have to go to court and also an arbitrator to show, what anyone with any sense knows, what they have done is illegal and wrong – you can’t unilaterally remove parts of a contract to which you agreed,” Rumore wrote in a statement issued Tuesday.

citydesk@buffnews.com

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