January 30, 2009
Avoiding teacher layoffs with "shared sacrifice"
School districts could avoid laying off potentially thousands of employees if teachers unions agreed to make "minor sacrifices," or contract givebacks, the Empire Center's E.J. McMahon writes in a op-ed today.
In Yonkers, for example, city school officials warn Governor David Paterson's proposed budget could force them to lay off 600 employees. Instead, McMahon argues for freezing teacher salaries, noting "Yonkers teaches are not poorly paid."
Under their current contract, the base salaries of Yonkers teachers have risen 6.6 percent since July 2007, with another 2.5 percent increase due to take effect next week. Their pay is due to increase by another 3 percent on July 1, and by 3 percent yet again in mid-2010. Teachers also get annual longevity step increases that can add 3 to 5 percent a year.
Thus, for example, the salary of a teacher with a master's degree originally hired by the district in 1998 --typically a person now in his or her mid-30s--rose from $75,700 in 2007-08 to $80,335 last September. The same teacher's base pay will be boosted to $82,343, effective Feb. 1, and is scheduled for a bump to $91,751 next year. That's a total pay increase of 21 percent within two school years. McMahon notes that private sector workers are seeing their salaries frozen or cut, including top White House aides. President Barack Obama, in his inaugural address, praised "the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job," which "sees us through our darkest hours."
Memo to teachers unions in Yonkers and elsewhere: These are very dark hours for New York taxpayers. How about pitching in? Current teacher union contracts for more than 700 school districts can be downloaded at www.SeeThroughNy.net.
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