ALBANY, NY –New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi today called a Senate bill that would dismantle fairness in layoffs “an attack on collective bargaining.”
“This evening’s bill attempts to strip away seniority -- the heart of fairness in layoffs. A ‘yea’ vote was a vote against public employees,” Iannuzzi said. “You will hear from some who voted for this horrific bill that it’s only a 'one house' bill; it would only apply to New York City or is simply designed to 'start' a conversation. None of these excuses and lame attempts at disguising the real significance of this vote is acceptable.”
Iannuzzi added, “Leaving it up to the Assembly, trying to pit city against suburbs, and claiming to use the bill to prod others into action shows a complete disregard for the tireless service each of our public-sector members provides.” He said, “NYSUT has and will always be willing to be part of any meaningful discussions about continually improving the effectiveness of our members. Our role in last year’s Teacher/Principal and Evaluation Law demonstrates our commitment to a carefully thought out process to guarantee an effective teacher in every classroom. We understand and support the role of performance in employment decisions. But, we also understand the value of experience and the knowledge acquired through practice.”
He said, “NYSUT will not be part of any scheme to diminish the value of each and every member regardless of her or his years of service. We will not allow a bill that exposes our members to harassment, favoritism and intimidation to divert us from our commitment to defend collective bargaining and the right to organize.
“Today’s vote has little to do with New York state’s economy or that of New York City. It is no more than a cruel attempt to manipulate the law and the collective bargaining process. Those who voted for this bill today have put New York’s children at risk by using them as helpless pawns in a perverse game of political charades to support the mayor of New York City.”
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the Senate’s attempt to quickly wipe out a century of employment law that ensures fairness in layoffs is “Wisconsin-style politics” and another assault on working families. He said allowing principals to arbitrarily decide whom to layoff brings back an era of nepotism, cronyism and diminished accountability to the public. “In this fiscal climate, how many experienced teachers would be willing to stand up and fight against budget cuts that would hurt their students, if they know doing so would put a layoff target on their back?”
Two recent studies document that experienced teachers are more effective in raising test scores than newer teachers. And, with 50 percent of new teachers leaving the classroom within five years, Pallotta said New York City schools could be left with a revolving door of still-developing teachers, without enough experienced veterans to guide them.
“Laying off experienced teachers would create an unstable learning environment for those children who desperately need the experience that seasoned teachers provide,” Pallotta said.
NYSUT, the state’s largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.