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Columbia Spectator Staff

Two days after the United Federation of Teachers announced that its members would consider striking if their contract was not settled by early October, the UFT and Mayor Bloomberg's office are in disagreement over whether or not negotiations have begun.

"I am here 24/7 to negotiate a contract," said Randi Weingarten, president of the UFT, yesterday. "[Representatives of the mayor's office] have yet to come back to the bargaining table. That's an outrage."

The teachers have been working without a contract since May of 2003.

But Jordan Barowtiz, a spokesperson for Mayor Bloomberg, disagreed with Weingarten. "Contracts are settled at the bargaining table, not through press releases," he said. "We had a negotiating session with the UFT [on Wednesday]. ... The labor commissioner met with the UFT president. I don't know what their definition of a negotiation is."

"There have been no official negotiations since Oct. 8th 2004," countered UFT Press Secretary Stuart Marques yesterday evening. "When Randi has a conversation with [Labor Commissioner] James Hanley, that's not a negotiation ... those aren't times when stuff gets done. Negotiations are with a negotiating committee. Negotiations are when stuff gets done."

In addition to raising the possibility of a strike, the union also said Wednesday it may endorse Fernando Ferrer-Bloomberg's rival-in the November general election, for Mayor.

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