New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced recently that the City would eliminate planned raises for public school teachers and principals over the next two years. The mayor hopes that the move will save the jobs of approximately 4,400 teachers who would otherwise be laid off due to declining state tax revenues. In a statement, Mayor Bloomberg said “we know that teachers and their families are facing tough times, too, and that this will not be easy for them. But when it came to a choice between teacher raises or laying off teachers, I have chosen to protect our children and their futures.” Both the president of the teachers’ and principals’ unions vowed to contest the move, asserting that the mayor does not have the authority to unilaterally freeze the pay of these employees, as such a change must be negotiated. Significantly, teachers would still be eligible to receive step increases, which can range from approximately $400 for new teachers to up to $8,000 with twenty years’ experience.

In Connecticut, boards of education are required to bargain with the employee group over matters related to “wages, hours and conditions of employment.” Furthermore, it is an unfair labor practice to make unilateral changes in working conditions that affect one or more of these areas. In light of this law, boards of education in Connecticut are not permitted to make unilateral changes to negotiated wage rates without first bargaining with the employee representative about the change. To read more about this issue, please click here.