BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Teachers Federation president Phil Rumore and members of the union are calling on the Buffalo Public Schools board of education and district to begin contract talks.
Rumore said BTF has a meeting with the council of delegates Thursday. They plan to make a motion — there will be a vote of no confidence in the district if there's no substantial progress made or a contract in place in two weeks.
Rumore spoke at Wednesday's school board meeting at Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. When he was done addressing board members, dozens of teachers in the auditorium started chanting "fair contract now" and then walked out.
Teachers protested with signs calling for a new contract outside the school before the meeting.
The school district and teachers union previously agreed to use a fact finder to come to a resolution, but that's not supposed to happen until sometime in October. Rumore said BTF has been waiting since 2019, and they're frustrated and tired of waiting.
The union is demanding better pay and benefits, as well as better teacher conditions.
"Feels about time. With the rising cost of groceries and with suburban districts getting larger contracts, I feel like it's about time we get paid a fair wage for the amount of hard work and dedication we have to children of the City of Buffalo," teacher Mike Jeffers said.
"Unfortunately it [a vote of no confidence] is necessary if in two weeks the new superintendent and the board and the negotiating team for the district don't realize how valuable we are to this district. We have to take the next step.
BPS superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams did comment on the demands at the school board meeting on Wednesday.
"Negotiations mean there's give and take on both sides. You can't say you've got two weeks and you have to agree to whatever we say. That's not negotiating in good faith," Williams said.