New York City informed the city's biggest teachers union on Thursday that it cannot afford to pay $900 million in back wages.
Citing the budget deficit and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan told United Federations of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew in a letter that it is "unable to make a lump sum payment to
active and retired UFT employees as had been scheduled for this month pursuant to the May 1, 2014 Memorandum of Agreement."
Mulgrew said the payment is due this month, telling union members in an email, "This is unacceptable."
He said the payments are overdue wages that go back to 2009 and 2010 when then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not grant educators the same wage increases other city employees received.
“We’re in for another fight,” Mulgrew told members in a video Thursday night. The union had been sparing with the city over the summer as to how to reopen schools safely and challeges that come with the pandemic continue to create more problems.
Scores of schools in New York City have been ordered to go to remote-learning-only again for at least two weeks because they are in or near areas where COVID-19 has been spreading in the community.
So far, there has been no response from the city's Department of Education but according to the Wall Street Journal, the city has agreed to arbitration with the union that represents DOE 120,000 employees.