With the dirty work out of the way, members of some area teacher unions wasted no time in approving new contracts - with generous pay raises - from their school boards. Two of the most recently approved contracts - in Westfield and Dunkirk - came after both districts shed a number of positions, due to reduced aid funding from New York state all while attempting to keep higher taxes at a minimum.
In Westfield, three positions and numerous coaching posts were eliminated in June, which led to this comment from Karen Belcher, teachers' union president: "It's terrible. The teachers are upset about losing some of their colleagues. The union is not happy we're losing these positions."
But one month later, the union was much better mood - and quite obviously past the loss of their laid-off colleagues - learning of the new three-year contract with salary increases totaling 14.5 percent. "I'm happy," Belcher said. "It will be nice to go back to a new school year and not have to worry about it. It should be a great thing for both sides."
But not so great for those job casualties.
In Dunkirk, the contractual pay increases total 7.5 percent over two years while a retirement incentive has been offered and at least 25 positions have been reduced.
Both these contracts - approved as the nation comes out of a recession and the state continues in a major fiscal crisis - prove once again that in public-sector unions, it's never one for all and all for one. It's really all about keeping the ones at the top "happy" even if "it's terrible" those at the bottom - or the most recent hires - are losing their jobs.