Court Decides In Favor Of Teachers’ Union

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego City School District’s attempt to add more instructional time, at the secondary level, has been stymied again.

In the matter of the arbitration between Brian Haessig, president of Oswego Classroom Teachers Association, and the school district, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Fourth Department rendered its decision Dec. 30, 2011.

It appears as if the two sides are headed back to the bargaining table.

At the secondary level, middle and high school “the district unilaterally changed the terms of OCTA members’ employment” by making them go from five teaching periods out of nine periods (“like we’ve had for 30 years,”) to six periods, according to the union president.

The court’s decision states: The Association filed a grievance when (district) assigned an additional instructional class to teachers for the 2010-2011 school year and it subsequently demanded arbitration.

(The district) sought a stay of arbitration on the ground that the grievance was not arbitrable.

In the alternative, (the district) sought a determination that any arbitration would be advisory in nature. Contrary to (the district’s) contention, Supreme Court properly granted the petition and denied the cross motion.

The Association alleged that (district’s) assignment of an additional instructional class violated Article VIII, sections A and D of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which govern teaching load and class sizes.

“We said it needed to be negotiated.  They implemented it, and we grieved. We were ready to go to arbitration and they sought a stay. We blocked it. We won. They went back and tried again. We won again,” Haessig told Oswego County Today.

This decision says they have to go back to arbitration, he added.

The union president will contact the Education Center and try to schedule a date after the holiday.

“It’s not that we don’t want to teach more; we’re just asking them to negotiate in good faith,” he said. “The board has been digging its heels in and we have had to go to arbitration or close to it on certain things.”

“Although there was a level of optimism anticipating the decision of the Court of Appeals, I was more of a realist to think that the determination would be moving the parties to an arbitration. I am most confident in the parties being able to resolve matters prior to an arbitration hearing. Staying focused on the interest to keep teachers in the classroom while respecting the language of the contract may result in an island of commonality between the parties,” Superintendent Bill Crist said.


  1. The “us” vs. “them” (teachers vs. school board) mentality of Mr. Haessig is reprehensible. Haessig states “like we’ve had for 30 years” concerning the teaching periods. Well Mr. Haessig…how has that been working for ya? Low test scores, low graduation rates and high drop out rates! Wouldn’t it have been wonderful for our children if they (the teachers union) just played nice for a change. The teachers union should support and help the school board with its mission. Period. The teachers union and Haessig = selfish, reprehensible behavior.

  2. I have the highest admiration and respect for teachers. And the increasing restrictions and responsibilities they face.
    I also understand the impossibility of the budget process for the residents to pay for good teachers.
    With layoffs, pay freezes, and pay cuts the norm, we simply cannot afford to pay teachers any additional dollars.

    Though if we must, we hope for something in return.
    An agreement –not an imposed demand–where teachers have not accepted pay cuts, but have accepted more class time would be a step toward a positive compromise.
    It would be beneficial to the students and their parents, the taxpayers (the payers of their salaries) to have greater instruction at a reasonable cost.

    And we would expect that administrative costs be decreased; that each administrator be expected to do more for no additional cost, or less cost, to us. With our difficulties paying for our quality teachers, we certainly have no money to spare for more administrative non-teaching pay and lavish lifetime benefits.

    We do expect you to compromise, keeping in mind our children’s’ education foremost, and our decreasing ability to pay you as our constraint on your wants and demands. The children first, your needs second.

  3. The union is asking for the district to follow contract law and bargain for more teaching time, to not just unilaterally impose it on the teachers. That is only fair under contract law and past practice. The union has not stated that a compromise cannot be reached. In fact the union brought a compromise to the district last spring and the district did not respond with a fair response.

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