NYC
03/01/2011 12:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

New York Unions Stand Against Ending 'Last In, First Out' Rule

A chief labor leader blasted efforts to end the "last in, first out" rule for teacher layoffs as Wisconsin-style union busting.

Under the existing rule, teachers who were hired more recently are cut from the workforce before educators with longer tenures. It's an issue that has bitterly divided proponents on both sides.

State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes called the plan "a blatant assault on the principles of collective bargaining and an attack on workingmen and women throughout this state who are represented by labor unions."

"I want to make it abundantly clear to our elected officials that they cannot use the Wisconsin model of politics here in New York and that the state AFL-CIO will not tolerate attempts to silence the voice of working people," Hughes added, according to the New York Post.

Senate Republican John Flanagan plans to call for a vote on a bill that would allow teachers to be laid off based on teaching skills and not just seniority.

The legislation is expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, but it faces a tougher road in the Assembly, which Democrats control.

"This is a step in the direction of making sure we have the best teachers available," Flanagan said. "Times have changed. Everything that we used to do has to be given a fresh and new look."

HuffPost blogger and long-time South Bronx teacher, Peter Zucker contends that the "last in, first out" rule is designed to keep teachers safe from the arbitrary decisions of administrators.

He writes that opponents of the policy claim that layoffs should be "based on merit," but that judgment can be difficult to make, especially because test scores are unreliable.

See here is the dirty little secret. It ain't gonna work. Not as long as there is some administrator somewhere that for whatever reason doesn't like the cut of a teacher's jib. It could be a teacher goes to the wrong house of worship, has the wrong skin color, lives with someone outside of marriage, is homosexual, is a member of the wrong political party, parts their hair on the left not the right, thinks Phil Collins is a better drummer than Neil Peart. There is such a myriad of reasons that if we do away with the last in, first out system it can be, and in all probability will be, abused. That is why the fairest way is to continue with what we have.

Mayor Bloomberg, who favors ending 'last in, first out', has said the city will be forced to cut more than 6,000 teaching jobs through layoffs and attrition, if Gov. Cuomo's budget passes as is.

Cuomo said he believes seniority should not be the only factor considered when deciding which teachers get laid off.

The governor has also maintained that the city should be able to avoid laying off any teachers by cutting other areas of the education budget.

Bloomberg refutes Cuomo's assertion and has said teachers will in fact be cut under the governor's proposal.