‘New York Is Not Wisconsin’: Cuomo’s Stance on Last In, First Out Greased the Way With the Unions

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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Governor Cuomo's public spat with Mayor Bloomberg over the "last in, first out" rule to fire teachers may make it easier for him to negotiate with public employee unions. Despite the fact that Cuomo has threatened to fire 10,000 state workers, union leaders are privately saying they're prepared to make concessions when it comes up for debate next month. An anonymous union boss told the New York Post:

"There's been a sea change in recent days in attitudes toward the governor by people in the labor movement. The public-employee union leaders now think they'll be able to work something out with the governor. They realize the state has great economic difficulties."

Cuomo initially tried to derail Bloomberg's proposal to add nine categories, like absenteeism and criminal record, as factors when considering firing a teacher. But then offered a much more modest, and politically viable, proposal allowing for fewer, and vaguer, standards for dismissal, like whether a teacher is "effective" or "ineffective."

Cuomo's spokesperson, Josh Vlasto, emphasized that our state senators will not be camping out in a Holiday Inn.

"The bottom line is we need an alternative to LIFO which is an objective evaluation system, and once that is developed we can replace LIFO. We do not agree, however, as our Republican colleagues advocate, that we should now disregard collective bargaining in this instance. New York is not Wisconsin."

But the LIFO battle is still waging. Bloomberg, who called Cuomo's proposal a "scam" and a gift to the union, is back to being chummy with the governor. Public-school reformers — not so much. In a letter signed by Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein, who took up the cause toward the end of his nine-year tenure as New York City Schools Chancellor, they wrote:

"However, while this legislation is critical, it does not go far enough or propose changes fast enough to address the immediate challenges facing our public education system."

Does this mean the sleepovers and protests are back on? Because we have a better idea for a group sing-along.

Gov's labor love [NYP]
Reformers to Cuomo: Go all the way [NYP]
Say one thing, do another [Times Union]