WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

BPS Substitute Teachers Want Pay Raise

Protest in Niagara Square on Wednesday

Mike Baggerman
September 20, 2017 - 9:05 pm
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – A group of substitute teachers held a protest at Niagara Square on Wednesday evening, arguing their wages are not high enough. The group, in particular, blamed the Buffalo School Board.

“(The school board) is unwilling to negotiate a contract in good faith with us,” Stephen Hicks, President of Substitutes United/Buffalo, a union for substitute teachers. “We’ve been negotiating with them for five years. We thought we were making headway and they just stopped on us. Another issue is that they’ve extended the school day but yet our compensation has remained the same.”

He said substitute teachers come from all walks of life including retired teachers.

“We’re not babysitters, we’re teachers,” he said.

Hicks said increasing the school day isn’t fair for substitute teachers because a new contract hasn’t been agreed upon since 2012. As a result, substitute teachers are working longer and making the same amount of money.

Mary Oldham, a 12-year substitute teacher within the district, said the board forgot who they were.

“The school I was at (on Wednesday) there were two teachers that weren’t covered,” she said. “Then they have to pull reading teachers and speech teachers to cover those rooms. That’s wrong. We play a very important role and they don’t respect us.”

Oldham said substitute teacher salaries vary with the starting salary around $90 and the maximum at $120. There are also different qualifications for certified teachers and those who have a bachelor’s degree.

She also said she hasn’t considered working in other districts in Western New York because she has children that attend the Buffalo Public Schools. Oldham also said she “might” entertain the idea of working at another school district but never gave it much thought.

Phil Rumore, the Buffalo Teachers Federation President, provided his support to the group but said the substitute teachers are a separate union from the Buffalo Teacher’s Federation and were not included in part of the teacher’s contract negotiation last year.

Following the gathering at Niagara Square, the protesters sat into Wednesday’s scheduled Buffalo School Board meeting, where they had the opportunity to confront the school board.

LISTEN: Stephen Hicks, President of Substitutes United/Buffalo

Subs Hicks RAW.mp3

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