NYC public schools include approximately 1.1 million students; the system is the largest in the country. The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) represents roughly 100,000 teachers and many other NYC school employees whom, since 2009, have been working on an expired contract.
The UFT held off on contract negotiations due to difficulty dealing with former Mayor Bloomberg. However, it seems that the union is finding a great deal more ease in negotiating with Mayor Bill de Blasio. On Thursday afternoon, the mayor and the NYC teachers union finalized contract details that have landed both sides on common ground.
“Working together with our dedicated teachers, instead of being locked in rancorous debate, we have found common ground today that moves us closer to those critical objectives,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Everyone needs to play a positive role in our children’s future, and this agreement deepens parental engagement, recognizes quality teachers, and ensures our students will benefit from a new era of educational reforms that will improve learning and performance in the classroom.”
“NYC is, for the first time in a long time, truly in the educational reform mode and I can’t thank the mayor enough for allowing this,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said. “Teachers now have a fair deal moving forward.”
The 9-year deal will include retroactive pay for the time since teachers have had a contract while preserving other benefits, such as health care and pensions. Teachers will also receive higher salaries for taking on leadership roles or being “exemplary”. There will be annual bonuses for experienced and exemplary teachers who choose to stay in under-served neighborhoods. On top of that, all union members will receive a $1000 bonus when the deal is signed.
With that in mind, evaluations for teachers will be simplified, going from 22 criteria to only 8.
There will be a series of annual raises: from 2013-2015 will be 1%, in 2016 it will be 1.5%, in 2017 will be 2.5% and in 2018 there will be 3%. The contract is set to expire a year after Mayor Bill de Blasio runs for re-election.
The Daily News for NYC reported that there were some debates won by the city. The teachers on payroll who do not have positions will be given trial runs at various schools then evaluated. If the principals of those schools do not approve of each teacher’s performance, they will be subject to an expedited termination report. The process for firing teachers due to sexual misconduct will also be streamlined.
Most remarkably is the fact that, despite the high cost of the raises and bonuses, taxes will not be raised to support the deal. According to the city, the agreement is fully within the city’s budget.
Extra funding will be developed for the contract through balancing of other benefits. There will be up to $1 billion in health care savings. Teachers won’t have to start contributing to their health care costs; the savings will come through other means. Some of those other ways include centralized drug purchases and the auditing of health benefits.
The contract still needs to be voted on by union members, but could wind up setting a template for the 150 other union contracts Mayor Bill de Blasio still needs to negotiate.