The Buffalo public school system’s health insurance covers plastic surgery. There is no copay. According to BuffaloNews.com, the cost of the benefit rose from $1 million in 2004 to $9 million in 2009. That was 9 percent of the district’s total spending on health benefits for employees and retirees. According to Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic, the union has said that it will be happy to drop the benefit in the next round of contract negotiations.
However, Buffalo teachers haven’t bothered to negotiate a new contract since the last one expired in 2004. Thanks to New York State’s Triborough Amendment, they don’t have to. The old contract automatically stays in force until the union reaches a new agreement. As the old agreement has lavish benefits and yearly 2.5% step increases, the union has no incentive to enter into negotiations with a city that receives 48 percent of its revenues with from what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calls a “functionally bankrupt” state and might, for once, actually be interested in driving a hard bargain.