December 2013/January 2014 - Labor Issues
December 17, 2013

Unionists in Queens protest labor impasse

Author: Matt Smith
Source: NYSUT United
neira meets lexingont staff and leaders
Caption: NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira greets members of the Lexington School Teachers' Association at a rally demanding that school administrators return to the bargaining table. Photo by Miller Photography.

Teachers and instructional assistants at the Lexington School for the Deaf in Queens gathered recently to protest the decision by the school's administration to declare a contract impasse after only four months of talks with staff.

NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira joined the 140-member Lexington School Teachers' Association, a NYSUT affiliate, at the rally where the group demanded administrators return to the negotiating table. United Federation of Teachers members also stood in solidarity with the Lexington educators.

Neira, standing outside the Jackson Heights school, assured the local's membership that NYSUT stood in solidarity with them, and pledged the statewide union's support in the fight to end the impasse.

Despite the local's wish to continue negotiations, Lexington administrators in September declared an impasse in contract talks and imposed terms of its final contract offer on teachers and instructional assistants - a move the union is challenging.

At the center of the contract dispute are base salaries, which have not seen an increase in eight years despite longer working hours imposed on teachers and instructional assistants. Step increases at the school also have remained frozen since the 2007-08 school year.

The local deserves a contract that is negotiated in good faith, not one that is arbitrarily imposed, Neira said. She also noted the 150-year-old school has an important history serving students with special needs, and administrators have a responsibility not only to staff, but also the community, to end the labor impasse.