The Buffalo Teachers Federation has filed a grievance against the public school district in Buffalo, New York because the district wants to serve breakfast in the classroom.
The grievance asserts that the breakfast program causes unsanitary conditions and unfairly forces teachers to do work that is beyond the provisions of their collective bargaining agreement, reports Buffalo NBC affiliate WGRZ.
The same collective bargaining agreement provides teachers — who make less than $60,000 per year on average — with a host of extravagant cosmetic surgery procedures including everything from hair removal to liposuction to microdermabrasion.
In 2011 alone, Eagnews.org discovered, Buffalo taxpayers picked up a $2.7 million tab for free plastic surgery.
Buffalo’s public school system currently faces a massive budget deficit of about $50 million.
The Breakfast in the Classroom program is designed to ensure that children in a Buffalo public school can eat breakfast if they don’t get the meal at home and regardless of their family income levels.
The program is a response to an uncomfortable statistic: in the city that gave America and the world Buffalo wings, over 80 percent of all public school students live below the poverty line, according to WGRZ.
It’s hard to feed kids before the school bell rings with any efficiency, apparently, so the solution is to allow food in classrooms in the morning.
The teachers union is having none of it.
Phil Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, swears that he isn’t against any kid eating a good breakfast.
“We want each school to sit down and say what do we need to make this program work so we don’t have the messes (and if so) they get cleaned up properly.” Rumore told WGRZ.
The union boss added that union members don’t want to worry about “stinky buckets with milk in them in the classroom” or “rodents.” He also voiced concerns about “taking away from instructional time.” He wants a guarantee that “if we have a complaint about rodents, there will be somebody there the next day…and that a spill will get taken care of by custodial right away.”
Presumably, then, teachers and students would be unable to mop up a spill or deal with the appearance of a mouse.
The NBC affiliate also spoke with a parent, who disagrees with Rumore.
A mess can be “a great opportunity to teach children to clean up after themselves and nobody has had issues with pizza parties and birthday parties and the fruit and vegetable program that’s in the schools,” suggested Jessica Bauer Walker.
“Many of the younger grades also eat lunch in the classroom,” she added.
A November 2012 exposé by Eagnews.org on the “Real School Employees of Buffalo” showed that plastic surgery costs in 2011 came to $2.7 million. The same year, teachers dropped an additional $300,000 or so on air travel, high-priced hotels and even limousines.
A 2010 story in The Atlantic explains that the strange cosmetic surgery perk dates back to a sweet contract negotiated in the 1970s.
These days, plastic surgeons doctors market their services in the newsletter of the Buffalo teachers union.
The cosmetic surgery clause has been criticized since the last collective bargaining agreement in 2004. At one point, the school board offered call off 100 teacher layoffs if the union would agree to halt the cosmetic surgery program for a year. The union refused.