Hot for Teacher

Would you like to have free elective cosmetic surgery at the taxpayer’s expense? If you do, get a job with the Buffalo Public School system.

Yep, as thousands of teachers across the country find their jobs in jeopardy, Buffalo teachers get free plastic surgery.

How is this possible?

New York State’s broken collective bargaining system, that’s how.

Since the 1970’s, Buffalo teachers have had as part of their contract a rider that supplies free reconstructive cosmetic surgery. In 1996, the rider was almost removed, but the daughter of a school district employee was severely injured in a car crash and she required reconstructive surgery. The rider stayed on the books.

The teachers have technically been without a contract since 2004. Turns out, by New York State law, they haven’t needed one. In 1982 the state passed a law that allows public employees to continue working under their most recent contract after it expires until their union can negotiate a new one. The Buffalo teacher’s union has not negotiated a new contract.

Why would they? They get to keep their benefits, free cosmetic surgery and a 2.5% annual step increase in salary. There’s not much of an incentive for a new contract.

So what’s the big deal?

In 2003, cosmetic surgeons began advertising in the teacher union newsletters.

Yeah, I know. Bunch of snakes.

As a result, nearly 500 employees took advantage of the rider in 2009 for elective purposes such as Botox, tummy tucks, hair removal and microdermabrasion. The cosmetic surgery rider cost the school district $5.2 million last year; at it’s peak in 2009, it was up to $9 million.

The district reports that it’s budget for next year is projecting a $42 million deficit. 117 staff members had to be laid off. Doing away with the rider could have saved about 100 of those jobs.

What a sweet deal. Guaranteed salary increases, health insurance and free face lifts. All at the taxpayer’s expense because of broken collective bargaining.

I think I could use some hair replacement work. I’m getting kind of thin up there. I’m filling out my application for a teaching job in Buffalo right now.