Duking it Out New York Style

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The nastiness has elevated this month in New York, as tempers flare over the never-ending contract negotiations between New York’s United Federation of Teachers and Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Kicking into high gear, president of the UFT, Randi Weingarten, came out blazing away at the mayor and Chancellor Klein announcing that the contract talks had failed, and accusing them of implementing reforms that have had nothing but negative effects.

Spewed Weingarten: "The fact is, 'Children First,' Chancellor Klein's much vaunted reorganization of the system has produced flat reading scores, widespread mismanagement, overcrowding, chaotic high schools and profound demoralization among thousands and thousands of hardworking teachers who find themselves shackled by an inane micromanaging bureaucracy."

Meanwhile Bloomberg (speaking with a little less venom) denies that contract negotiations are a failed cause, contending that they've simply entered a temporary lull that will allow both sides to reframe their strategies.

It's an issue that's further complicated by the recent court ruling requiring a $5.6 billion annual increase in funding to the NYC schools without specifying who should bear the brunt of the cost—the state or the city. Bloomberg and Weingarten had been hoping to hash out the new contract before the court ruling was finalized, but these days Weingarten's message is loud and clear: don't expect union support when it comes to figuring this one out.