Our regular readers all remember Rumore: an arrogant little man who usually spends his time defending taxpayer-funded benefits for Buffalo teachers, like elective cosmetic surgery. (By elective, we mean boob jobs, liposuction, ass lifts—you get the idea.) But what he’s really spent more than half a decade staking his union presidency on has been his assertion that Buffalo teachers (and other union employees) were due back pay for raises that didn’t occur during a three-year pay freeze put in place by the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority.
The BFSA was created to help dig Buffalo out of a very deep financial hole, and they were given broad powers to do whatever it took to get Buffalo and its institutions to solvency, including stepping on the perks normally paid out to unions. So, one of their first actions was to impose a three-year freeze on wages. Given that Buffalo’s fiscal picture was dark then, and still isn’t exactly rosy, we kind of thought the prudent course for the Rumore and the BTF way back then might have been to negotiate a reasonable middle-ground with the city school board and Mayor Byron Brown.
But this is the same Phil Rumore who, a decade ago, led his union into repeated illegal strikes. So instead of negotiating, the BTF sued. Actually, first they picketed in front of the home of the woman serving as director of the BFSA. Then, they sued. And, of course, they promptly lost—and they lost big time, being shot down by the U.S. Supreme Court four years ago on the merits of, essentially, the exact same lawsuit.
Unfortunately for Buffalo’s teachers, and their families, Rumore has proven time and again that he’s little more than a bomb-thrower with a penchant for pissing off even his allies—as he did when he called liberal Democrat Assemblyman Sam Hoyt a “publicity-seeking, pathetic excuse for a human being” last year. Those kinds of tactics no doubt impressed the hell out of the staid jurists who comprise the New York State Court of Appeals, even as Rumore pissed away his members’ union dues on a case he had no chance of winning.
And, so, Rumore lost yesterday. He lost big, and he lost again. Instead of taking any of several offers for peace that Buffalo quietly offered the BTF to end its long, expensive lawsuit, Rumore decided to roll the dice and go all-or-nothing.
Rumore could have, at any time, brought a partial victory home to his teachers—but, try as we might, we can’t really remember the last time Phil Rumore actually won a fight worth winning. Instead, his union’s members suffer, as his most significant wins these days tend to be efforts to keep teachers arrested for serious crimes from losing their jobs while his union’s benefits go down the drain.
We only hope that Buffalo’s teachers aren’t paying attention. After all, for Buffalo’s unionized teachers, Phil Rumore just became a very expensive liability. For the taxpayers, though, growing used to watching him lose, he’s becoming comic relief, kind of a court jester for Western New York.
And, as we’ve never been that fond of public-sector unions to begin with, we can’t think of a better way for them to continue losing power than keeping Phil Rumore around.