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Principals' Union Says Issue Over Back Pay Halted Contract Negotiations

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TWC News: Principals' Union Says Issue Over Back Pay Halted Contract Negotiations
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The principals' union says it expected to sign a new contract with the city long before the start of the school year this week, but then, a major issue came up and negotiations came grinding to a halt. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Their union says the city is refusing to pay thousands of school principals and assistant principals any of the back pay they'd earned as teachers.

"We think morally, that's wrong," said Ernest Logan, president of the principals' union. "They have worked and earned that money. They should be compensated for the money that they've earned."

Under the new teachers' union contract ratified in June, teachers will get retroactive raises covering the five years since their last contract expired, which the city will pay out over the next six years.

However, anybody who leaves their job as a teacher up until 2020 will immediately stop getting any back pay, even if the reason they leave teaching is because they've been promoted to assistant principal or principal.

The principals' union says its been trying unsuccessfully to correct that issue through its contract negotiations.

"The city owes them money, and it should not be a disincentive to take a promotion, that if I become promoted, I lose money," Logan said.

The union says this issue has kept the city and principals from reaching a contract agreement.

"If we can get this settled, we could probably have a contract done," Logan said.

City Hall officials declined to comment or explain the situation, saying they don't talk about ongoing negotiations, but Logan says the city has estimated the cost anywhere from $50 million to $100 million and suggested it just doesn't have the money.

The union says the policy would cost assistant principals or principals as much as $54,000 each.

"People will say, 'Why should I step in and take on this additional responsibility, additional accountability, and why am I being penalized for doing that?' So then you don't get the best," Logan said.

Logan says he won't budge on this since his members would never vote to ratify a deal that strips so many of them of back pay, though he says he wishes his 6,000 members were not starting yet another school year under an expired contract.

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