New Rochelle teachers protest over stalled contract talks

The New Rochelle district and its teachers have been negotiating a new union contract for a year now with neither side able to reach an agreement.

News 12 Staff

Jan 22, 2021, 10:06 PM

Updated 1,272 days ago


Teachers in one of Westchester's largest school districts are protested Friday morning over stalled labor negotiations.
The demonstration occurred outside of Albert Leonard Middle School. Teachers voiced their frustrations about the inability to get a new union deal done.
Dozens of teachers, including health teacher Cory Binenbaum, protested before the first bell on Friday. Binenbaum tells News 12 the teachers aren’t asking for anything that they don’t feel is fair.
The New Rochelle district and its teachers have been negotiating a new union contract for a year now without an agreement so far. Salary freezes, class sizes, and the length of the deal are major sticking points.
Conversations between the district and the Federation of United School Employees, which represents teachers and staff within New Rochelle, have been inconsistent. The union has walked away twice.
This is the first time in 30 years that teachers are working without a contract.
Albert Leonard Middle School science teacher Cheryl Smith says the disrespect is unbelievable.
"Those are the people with the kids,” says Smith of her colleagues. “Those are the people that are carrying this district, yet the disrespect at the table is unbelievable."
One of the major holdups is the looming cuts in state aid to schools because of the pandemic.
The teachers union is pushing for pay raises, which the district wants to delay until the financial picture becomes clearer.
News 12 is told the district wants to know more about looming cuts to state aid due to the pandemic, which could affect future finances.
"Non-pandemic, pandemic, we're here busting our butts every day in there,” says Binenbaum. “We would just like to be respected with a fair contract."
Teachers returned to their classrooms by the first bell to avoid disrupting students' learning. However, they plan to return to the picket line twice a week until a deal is solidified.
A City of New Rochelle District spokesperson directed News 12 to a letter the New Rochelle Board of Education released in early January, saying in part, “We firmly believe that continued dialogue between the parties is the best method for eventually reaching a fair and equitable settlement for all.”

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