Labor Peacemaker

ILR graduate mediates contract, helps set pattern for other unions
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

If you wonder what united New York City teachers and City Hall for an historic agreement last week after years of vitriol, talk to Martin Scheinman '75, M.S. '76.

He mediated the proposed nine-year contract awarding $5.5 billion in salary increases retroactive to 2009 for the 100,000-member United Federation of Teachers.

"It is the most interesting thing I’ve done in my career, because of the magnitude," he said Saturday in King-Shaw Hall during a board meeting of the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution.

Due to the numbers of students, teachers and taxpayers impacted by the agreement, Scheinman said one in 60 Americans will be affected by the package, expected to set a pattern of bargaining for 151 New York City unions that have not had contracts since 2011.

Settlement with New York City's teachers, "tells you collective bargaining in the public sector is not dead," said Scheinman, who has conducted more than 15,000 arbitrations and mediations in the private and public sectors.

In 2007, he and his wife, Laurie Scheinman, endowed the ILR institute which promotes dispute resolution education, research and training for students, academics, neutrals and practitioners.

This fall, Scheinman said, he will meet with ILR students to discuss his role in the teacher contract negotiations. "It's a pretty cool case."

A Cornell trustee and a member of the ILR Advisory Council since 2003, Scheinman said a number of ILR-affiliated negotiators were at the teacher-city bargaining table last week. One of them was Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers and a 2007 graduate of the New York State AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute.