Harlem Negotiations On Hold

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

The Harlem teachers' strike is on again Friday. That means school is off and right now negotiations are too.
Right now, no new negotiations are set. That's because a federal mediator decided both sides needed some time before any more progress could be made.
Salaries continue to hold up talks. The school board's most recent offer totals an increase of $10.7 million in salaries and benefits, for the district's roughly 540 teachers. That breaks down to an average six percent raise each year for three years, off the base salary of more than $31,000.
However, teachers say, the school board is misrepresenting the figures, by not factoring in the differences between the district's two separate salary schedules. Teachers hired after 2004 earn smaller yearly raises than those hired before.
Insurance is another major issue. Teachers will have to start paying their own premiums if the strike continues after August 31st.
"It's a scare tactic, they're trying to intimidate the teachers into accepting something less and I can tell you it's not going to work," says the teachers' chief negotiator Lenny Nieves.
"The board is expecting them to teach. If they don't teach, they have broken their contract and everything else in that contract is null and void," counters Superintendent Pat Deluca.
A single teachers' monthly premium will be about $500 a month. Teachers want to wipe out the newer salary schedule. But the superintendent says they agreed to the system once and should do so again.
Negotiations could start up again this weekend. The earliest possible school start date is Mnday. The Harlem football team did have to forfeit its game set for Friday night.

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