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Letter: Editorial board continues to mischaracterize BTF

Once again, The Buffalo News editorial board, in its never-ending quest to discredit the Buffalo Teachers Federation, and me, has misinformed and slanted the facts.

It was not the “freeze” imposed by a state control board that caused the long delay in reaching a new contract. It was litigation that lasted until a final court decision in March of 2013.

The litigation involved not moving teachers to the correct step after the wage freeze was lifted.

Neither side actively pursued negotiations during the pendency of the litigation in the courts. The cost of correcting the step placement would have been many millions of dollars that the district would have to pay teachers.

The News also conveniently omits that it was only after making significant changes to the ground rules requested by the board’s team and then having the board’s team adamantly and unequivocally refuse to schedule more than one tentative bargaining session in advance that we realized that delay and confrontation was the district’s objective.

Why else, if you wanted to resolve issues quickly, would you adamantly and unequivocally refuse to schedule “a minimum of two tentative negotiating sessions with agreed time limits” (emphasis added)?

Once again, this refusal came after the Buffalo Teachers Federation agreed to district proposals to change the ground rules used for 20 years.

We agreed to:

• Instead of not allowing specific grievances to be addressed, we agreed to allow them to be mutually addressed;

• Delete “Each party agrees with Master Negotiations/Impasse Schedule contained in the collective bargaining agreement;” and

• Delete the requirement for each side to give forty-eight (48) hours-notice prior to speaking with the media one month after exchanging proposals.

Yet, despite our agreement with these district proposals, the district adamantly and unequivocally refused to agree to schedule a minimum of two tentative negotiating sessions with agreed time limits.

Scheduling at least two tentative negotiating sessions is no “minor matter” when you have, in good faith agreed to district proposals, you are working for an early settlement and the district adamantly refuses to schedule and plan ahead.

The message from the district is loud and clear - we will not compromise on something that is critical to a speedy resolution despite your good will in accepting our changes to the 20-year-old ground rules (since we want to delay negotiations).

As for The News calling my actions “wholly specious,” “petulant” and stating that “he loves to make it about him,” who is making it about me? Could that be the editorial board?

Philip Rumore

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