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Buffalo Teachers Ordered To Work

September 15, 2000

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Striking Buffalo teachers said they would be back in class Friday after an angry state Supreme Court judge ordered an end to the walkout and accused union officials of ``greedy self-interest.″

Union President Philip Rumore said teachers would return to class for at least the next three school days while contract talks continue.

After working all week, the Buffalo Teachers Federation’s 3,700 teachers unexpectedly resumed their strike Thursday morning, stranding thousands of schoolchildren at bus stops and on school buses.

Superintendent Marion Canedo canceled classes for 47,000 students and the city opened emergency shelters for children. Bus drivers ran their routes to tell parents of the closing. Children left unattended were picked up and cared for until parents could be reached.

Throughout the city, as teachers picketed, children wearing backpacks walked along streets, with and without adults. Teachers, meanwhile, held a noontime rally at City Hall.

Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dillon threw out contempt charges against union leaders on a technicality Thursday, but sharply criticized the sudden walkout.

``For the absolute life of me, I cannot comprehend any reason whatsoever why someone would conclude that harm from the actions of this morning would fall on anyone other than the children of the city of Buffalo,″ Dillon said.

``This is about the greedy self-interest of the executive committee of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, who have no interest in protecting the health, safety and welfare of our children,″ said Board of Education President Paul Buchanan.

The union claims the district has not bargained in good faith to replace a contract that expired in June 1999.

Buchanan said the district’s latest offer Wednesday contained raises of 16.5 percent over four years. The union, he said, is seeking 17 percent.

In court Thursday, Dillon gave the teachers a pass for their walkout last week, dismissing contempt charges filed against union leaders. He agreed with BTF lawyers who argued that paperwork related to a court order forbidding the strike had been improperly filed.

The judge, however, solidified a temporary restraining order issued Tuesday ordering teachers back to work. BTF attorney Michael Sawicki said he expected the city to file new contempt charges stemming from the latest walkout.

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