Who says there are punishments for ignoring the law? For 10 years, the Buffalo Board of Education has been fighting the legitimacy of a contract signed in 1990. Money to settle the contract was supposed to be placed in escrow, pending a final resolution. The board never put the money away. There were no consequences for this legal and ethical lapse.
Now that a judge has ruled that the board has an obligation to pay, the coffers are empty. The teachers are being asked to accept a fraction of the money awarded. Mayor Anthony Masiello has stated that he will not allow the Buffalo Teachers Federation to bankrupt the city.
It is ironic that the latest contract offer contains no raises for people who have been teaching over 28 years. These are the same people, along with recent retirees, who went on strike in 1976, paid fines for striking, and who were not reimbursed when a judge ruled that the board had provoked the strike, violating the Taylor Law.
Board members have been able to take comfort in the fact that they have no legal accountability for their decisions in labor relations.