Restraining order on removals of cosmetic surgery rider

Posted at 3:59 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 15:59:56-04

A New York State Supreme Court Justice has issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the Buffalo Public School District from "terminating the cosmetic surgery provision" of the teachers' contract.

For more than 20 years, teachers have been able to get various forms of cosmetic surgery, which costs the district roughly $5 million per year. 

Earlier this month, the Buffalo Public School Board voted to remove the rider from the contract, saying it would help the district balance its budget.

The teachers have been working under conditions of their old contract for more than 13 years, because the Board and the Buffalo Teachers Federation have been unable to negotiate a new contract.  The union says the Board cannot legally remove part of the contract without negotiating the entire contract.

In a grievance, the Buffalo Teachers Federation said there are at least 10 cases where a Buffalo Public school teacher or someone in their family would be "irreparably harmed" if they lose the benefit.

In one example, a one-year-old daughter of a teacher is recovering from severe burns. While some of the medical treatments may be covered by parts of the standard medical policy, the 'cosmetic" aspects of treatment to prevent permanent scarring and treatment should be performed immediately but would not be covered without the cosmetic surgery rider.

The union also alleges teachers commonly use the rider to remove and prevent pre-cancerous growths or treat severe, chronic and painful acne.

The temporary restraining order will put the School Board's decision to remove the cosmetic surgery rider on hold until an arbitrator makes a decision on the union's grievance or until the Board rescinds its action.