Well, if I had to guess, they're thinking that they hold all of the cards. And they may even be right.
Here's how things look to someone not directly involved or with a personal stake in the negotiations:
- The city's budget is extremely tight and cuts need to be made.
- Layoffs and budget tightenings are happening in households all across the city and country.
- Teacher salaries have gone through the roof in recent years and they're still asking for more.
- There are a whole lot of teachers (ATR pool) who are getting paid for not teaching.
- There are another group of teachers (the rubber room) who shouldn't be teaching but are still getting paid to not teach.
- Mayor Bloomberg has done a good job with the schools.
No wonder they're going for it all.
The fact is, the city is risking very little by holding firm to their demands because they are confident that the public will back them up. So they win more PR points against the union by sticking to their guns and "standing up for what's right for our city." Then, when through arbitration they don't get everything they want, they win even more PR points by being able to turn the union's victories into examples of them screwing the city at the expense of themselves.
I'm not saying they're right. I am saying, they're sitting in a pretty good spot right now.