Mayor Michael Bloomberg is clashing once again with the teachers' union, as the city is taking the United Federation of Teachers to court over an issue dating to the elimination of so-called rubber rooms back in 2010. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It was a landmark agreement: city officials and the teachers' union making a deal to eliminate the infamous rubber rooms, where teachers accused of misconduct but still getting paid would sit and wait, often for months on end, for their cases to be resolved.
The union agreed to work with the city to increase the number of arbitrators hearing cases, a promise the mayor now says hasn't been kept.
"The UFT promised to do this, they made an agreement, and they just keep reneging and refuse to do it, so we're going to sue them," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show Friday.
Indeed, the city filed suit against the United Federation of Teachers on Thursday. Despite a deal to boost the number of arbitrators to 39, there are currently less than half that many, a shortage that the city says is again creating a backlog of cases.
The teachers' union, though, points the finger at the city.
"The mayor's charge is completely bogus," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.
The union says that the city is resisting a mediation process that the union says has resolved cases more quickly and efficiently. The union also says it's recommended 14 new arbitrators just since last month, but that many are reluctant to work for the city given the mayor's outspokenness.
"If you independently make a decision, and they get all upset about it, and then the mayor uses his bully pulpit to chastise you and excoriate you in public, I think that would deter some people from accepting to be an arbitrator," Mulgrew said.
Of course, it's the not the first time the mayor has disagreed with the teachers' union. The UFT is, in fact, a frequent target of his displeasure, and on his radio show Friday, Bloomberg accused the union of deliberately dragging its feet.
"Year after year, they just keep delaying, and the backlog keeps getting bigger," Bloomberg said.
"It's just a grandstanding publicity stunt for the mayor to rant and rave because he's angry his term in office is coming to an end," Mulgrew said.
With the two sides sharply at odds again, it appears it will be up to the courts to sort it out.