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A Big Union Fight Brews at NYC's Institute for Culinary Education

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Instructors call for raises and more attention to safety

Institute of Culinary Education

Though chef-instructors at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) paired up with union United Federation of Teachers in December, now eight months later, their union-assisted contract negotiations are at an standstill over salaries and safety issues, among other grievances, the Daily News reports.

Teachers working full-time earn $35,000 to $57,000 — just six more dollars per class than fifteen years ago — even though students at the for-profit culinary school pay $40,000 a year for a diploma and tuition has gone up about 18 percent since 2012.

To teach at ICE, teachers must have a culinary degree and extensive upper-level cooking experience. Yet sources told Daily News they’re often scheduled for “30-day stretches or longer with no break — and sometimes teaching a four-hour morning course and also a four-hour night course.”

Teachers have also pointed to safety and sanitation issues: Chef-instructor Ted Siegel was injured on the job, telling UFT “It takes an inordinately long time to fix things, equipment is constantly in disrepair, and the maintenance staff is not properly trained,” he says.

The school issued a statement through the ICE public relations director Stephanie Fraiman:

The faculty is an important part of the Institute of Culinary Education. For many years, ICE had a cooperative and productive relationship with the ICE Faculty Committee, the Union that previously represented the faculty. In December 2016, they elected to be represented by Local 2 of the United Federation of Teachers. We’ve just begun the bargaining process with the shared goal of reaching an agreement that recognizes and rewards Faculty members for their contribution to the success and stature of the School.

Faculty grievances come just two years after the school moved to a 74,000 square-foot facility at Brookfield Place. It’s much larger than the Flatiron location and allows them to offer some 1,500 classes a year. It’s dramatic growth from the school’s roots as Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School in Kump’s Uptown apartment back in the 1970s.

Recreational program instructor Melanie Karmazin told UFT that since the relocation, “Things are slipping through the cracks.” Stay tuned for updates.

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