A Buffalo New York school district is in serious financial trouble. In January 2014, the Buffalo News reported that the school district was grappling with a $50 million budget deficit for the 2013-14 school year. With a debt like that, you would think that theÂ Buffalo Federation of Teachers would want to pinch every penny they could, and only spend money on the absolute essentials. Well, in this case, the essentials are boob jobs, tummy tucks and any other cosmetic procedure you can think of.
Due to a benefit in teacher’s insurance plansÂ known as a â€œcosmetic riderâ€, union members have no co-pay on cosmetic procedures. The hard-working taxpayer gets to foot the entire bill. What is even more appalling is how much the school spent on this ridiculous benefit last year. In theÂ 2013-14 school year, theâ€œcosmetic riderâ€ on insurance plans for union members totaled $5.4 million dollars. It’s anÂ increase of 4.1 percent from 2012-2013, and an increase of 9.5 percent from two years ago. TheÂ Buffalo school district has attempted to convince members of the Buffalo Federation of Teachers to cut down on their taxpayer-funded tummy tucks, breast lifts and nose jobs, but they wouldn’t have it.
The school board has been unwilling to impose a new labor agreement without the rider, as allowed by law. So the district has been operating under the terms of an old agreement â€“ which includes the cosmetic rider â€“ that expired about 10 years ago.Â Â Until the union agrees to a new contract without the perk, the school district will continue paying.
Maybe an expense like this would be bearable if the teachers were doing an exceptional job with students, but that’s not the case either. The district has a pathetic 56% graduation rate. That means slightly more than half of the students are getting a diploma. Â According to the Buffalo News, only 12.2 percent of Buffalo students rated proficient or better on recent standardized English tests, while only 13.1 percent rated proficient or better in math.
The union newsletterÂ even includes ads from three cosmetic service providers. They use these ads to entice teacher into procedures like Botox, cosmetic breast and body contouring, facelifts, hair transplantation, and â€œmedispaâ€ treatments.
There is a chance, however, that the cosmetic rider could finally be abolished through labor negotiations. According to the Buffalo News,Â an outside mediator proposed giving teachers an 11.8 percent pay increase, and in exchange they would pay a â€œsmallâ€ amount toward their own health insurance. Along with the small co-pay, the proposal also calls for ending the plastic surgery coverage.
If I had to put money on it, and I do, that proposal isn’t going to fly. The school district’s debt will continue to grow, and so will Â the size of these teacher’s chests. Too bad it’s the taxpayer who’s left feeling like a boob.