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Teachers union negotiating with NYC; strike vote possible

September 1, 2020 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — The executive board of the teachers union on Monday told union officials to continue negotiations with New York City over a school reopening plan, but that they could authorize a strike vote if no agreement had been reached by Tuesday afternoon.

New York City has issued a hybrid plan for the 1.1 million children in its schools for the academic year starting Sept. 10.

The United Federation of Teachers union has said there are safety concerns that need to be addressed in any reopening plan, and that it was prepared to go to court or on strike, even though New York state bars teachers and other public employees from striking.

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The union’s executive board said the union negotiators were to bring a successful agreement with the city to a union Delegate Assembly scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, or they were authorized to call for a strike vote.

“We can’t afford to send students and staff back into any buildings until we have done everything possible — including a rigorous virus testing program — to see that they are safe,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. “The members of the UFT know that public employee strikes are illegal, but we are determined to do what is necessary to protect our students and the families of New York City.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio downplayed any potential strike when asked about it earlier Monday, saying he had spoken to union leadership, and “It’s clear to me that is not on the agenda for this meeting.”

Other big school systems in the country have decided to start remotely.

The union said the last strike was in 1975.