Buffalo Boss Jailed for Strike Action

N.Y. trial judge Kevin M. Dillon sentenced Philip Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Fed’n, to 15 days in jail for showing “complete and total disrespect” for the law by leading a strike of city teachers.

“What it came down to was: Either you were in charge or the law was in charge,” Dillon said while sentencing the union boss. “In words and deeds, you made it clear you were not going to adhere to court orders you did not agree with. That is difficult for me to accept and impossible for me to condone.”

Dillon did not impose jail terms on other BTF bosses, Barbara Bielecki and Edith LeWin, but fined them each $1,000. Rumore began his jail time Sept. 29; he was also hit with a $1,000 fine. Rumore faced the possibility of 30 days in jail for violating Dillon’s no-strike order and state labor law by leading a teachers strike on Sept. 14. The three bosses and the BTF, as a corporation, pled guilty Sept. 22 to contempt of court charges. Dillon also is empowered to impose a fine of any amount he deems reasonable against the union itself when he sentences it on Nov. 13.

Dillon said Rumore’s actions “made a mockery of court authority” and “inflicted harm on the city, its citizens and its children.” Dillon said Rumore’s actions were not designed to change an unjust law and should not be considered civil disobedience. [Buff. News 9/29/00]