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Orthodox Jewish Teachers Protest Veto of Religious Holiday Bill

A spokesman for Gov. Hugh Carey said that the governor had vetoed a bill to permit New York City public school teachers to deduct from their cumulative absence reserve absences for religious reasons because of technical problems but that the Governor intended to seek ways to resolve the problem.

Carey responded to a protest from the Association of Orthodox Jewish Teachers (AOJT), which declared that the veto of the Stavisky-Silverman Lewis bill had caused “dismay” to “the thousands” of Orthodox teachers in the city public school system and to the “Orthodox community in general.” The AOJT said that it was “especially significant” That both Houses of the State Legislature passed the measure this year, after it had been introduced several times previously, because it was opposed by the New York City Board of Education.

Phil Kipust, former president of the AOJT, declared that the measure would not lead to increased teacher absence or cost the city extra money but would eliminate “a form of discrimination against religiously observant teachers and place them on a par with most public and private employees throughout the country.”

EXPLAINS REASON FOR VETO

In his veto message, Carey said the bill “addresses a continuing concern of public employees who belong to religious denominations that require the abstinence from work on days of religious observance.” He noted that because teachers employed by the Board of Education in New York “can only charge up to three days of their religious observance against personal business or leave days, a limited number who are required to be absent more than three days during the school year because of their religious beliefs are placed in a position of conflict.”

Agreeing that the vetoed bill “provides those teachers with the opportunity to meet both their obligations to their employer and their faith,” the Governor said, however, that “it does so in a manner which undermine’s the state’s Taylor Law” which governs labor relations between the state and public employees.

Carey declared, in his veto message, that “leave benefits for public employees are proper subjects for negotiations and are to be determined by collective bargaining. This legislation removes the issue from the collective bargaining process by statutorily requiring benefits which should be left to agreement between the parties pursuant to the Taylor Law.”

Carey added that “little justification” had been given “for limiting the application of the bill not only to one geographic area of the state but to the class of public employees. In doing so, it discarnate against all other public employees.”

He said disapproval of the measure had been recommended to him by the State Department of Education, the city Boards of Education, the Conference of Large City Boards of Education, the State Office of Employee Relations, the civil service department, the New York Conference of Mayors and the Emergency Financial Control Board for New York City, among other agencies.

A spokesman for Carey said “we will continue to seek ways to alleviate the problem.” The bill Carey vetoed was introduced by three New York City Democratic state legislators: Sen. Albert Lewis, Assemblyman Leonard Stavisky and Assembly-man-now iudae-Leonard Silverman.

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