New York City teachers are trusted to nurture and educate young people and help shape their future. Working for a municipality has many positives and one is the security that accompanies what is supposed to be guaranteed pay and benefits. However, there are instances when the city will try to delay or even cancel certain benefits that were part of the labor agreement. When this happens, there are steps that the union must take to protect its members. In these cases, it is also imperative to have experienced legal advice.
City cancels deferred payments for teachers, sparking dispute
With the current health crisis and financial challenges, New York City is canceling a deferred payment of $900 million to teachers who are still in the classroom and have retired. Unsurprisingly, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is protesting this decision and the matter is headed for arbitration. The negotiation for these payouts was done between 2009 and 2011. This was set to be the final payment of five that were scheduled as part of that agreement. The city claims this is to avoid layoffs.
According to the city’s representatives, the act is necessary and it expresses regret for it while teachers are showing flexibility regarding teaching protocol. The UFT president expressed the intention to go to arbitration to get the deferred payment for its members. The UFT argument is that the money is owed; it was agreed to; it should be paid. It is unclear as to when the payments will be made if it does succeed in canceling the payment that is currently owed.
Understanding arbitration and seeking legal assistance
Unions seek to come to terms with employers on agreements that will benefit members. Part of that is ensuring the employer does not use circumstances to warrant violating union members’ rights with wages, health benefits, pensions and more. To compel employers to adhere to agreements, it is sometimes necessary to file for arbitration. This is especially important when people are facing various concerns about making ends meet. New York City teachers and retired teachers who were counting on this payment are understandably worried about the prospect of a delay and the city unilaterally deciding not to pay on time. Arbitration can be beneficial in these cases and unions should have legal assistance from the start to ensure they and their union are fully protected under labor law.