From the Newsday article (subscription required):
Nearly four-fifths of all teachers union presidents on Long Island do not teach a full load of classes or handle routine tasks like cafeteria duty, but they still collect full-time salaries and benefits paid, in most cases, by the taxpayer.
In eight districts, teachers union presidents are allowed under contracts to not teach any classes but instead work full-time for the teachers union, according to data compiled by Newsday.
Taxpayers are footing the bill in most of Long Island's 122 unionized districts for the union leaders' salaries and for the cost of hiring additional teachers to pick up their work. And because of a guarantee in state law, union leaders are entitled to full public pensions and health benefits, whether they spend a few hours or their entire workday on union business.
Getting paid to conduct union business during the workday, a practice known as release time, is long established and negotiated by individual union locals. Unions are not required to reimburse the districts for release time. About 22 percent of the New York State United Teachers locals on Long Island reimburse their districts for part or all of their union leaders' release time.
The newspaper estimates the cost of union "release time" at $6.3 million a year.
It's not uncommon for taxpayers to fund union work, as Steven Greenhut and others have pointed out here recently. But even by union-friendly New York State standards, the extent of the arrangement on Long Island seems unusual. Newsday notes that only one school district in Westchester County, a northern suburb comparable to Long Island's Nassau County, is allowing a full-time union leader to remain on the teaching payroll.