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Buffalo Public School teachers renew calls for a new contract

A large group rallied outside City Hall on Wednesday, demanding better pay, benefits, and teaching conditions. They have been negotiating a contract since 2019.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Dozens of teachers from Buffalo Public Schools are renewing their calls for a new contract.

A large group rallied outside City Hall on Wednesday, demanding better pay, benefits, and teaching conditions. They have been negotiating a contract since 2019.

Union president Phil Rumore says after three years the district should be in a better place to offer what they call a fair deal.

"There's more money available," he said. "There's a shortage of teachers, and the teachers have just said now they're very angry, and they said, 'Look, the last offer was insulting, there was hardly no raises in the first couple years except for lump sums. It's an insult.' "

Rumore said he believes the environment around education, especially here in Buffalo, makes this year different.

Broadly speaking, there's a nationwide teacher shortage. Buffalo Public Schools have a new superintendent in Dr. Tonja Williams, and the district and union have both acknowledged that BPS is in a much better financial position with some money in reserve and additional funding from the state expected.

Rumore said while the union has slightly lowered the amount they are demanding since BPS released its last proposal back in April, discussions with the district have all been through mediation.

Thursday will be the first time Rumore said the union will be meeting with a fact finder, which is when an impartial third party looks at everything involved in a union negotiation and then issues a report with the goal of resolving an impasse like this.

A Buffalo Public Schools spokesperson released a statement on Wednesday night, saying, "The district has current contracts with 10 out of its 11 labor unions, and it is among our highest priorities to make it 11 out of 11 with our teachers."

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