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May 20, 2019

NYC teachers union reaches deal with city on new contract

October 11, 2018
President of the United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew negotiated past 3 a.m. Thursday to reach deal with the city. Current contract with Mayor de Blasio was set to expire in February. (Seth Wenig / AP)

Top teachers union officials approved a new multi-billion-dollar teachers union contract at a Thursday morning meeting at the United Federation of Teachers’ headquarters.

The tentative 43-month contract follows the same wages negotiated by District Council 37 in June.

If ratified, UFT members will receive wage hikes of 2% in February, 2.50% in May of 2020, and 3% in May of 2021.

But officials focused Thursday on other aspects of the labor deal — namely, a program dubbed the “Bronx Plan” aimed at improving performance at 180 struggling schools in the Bronx by encouraging teachers to work in, and stay at, those schools by providing a “hard-to-staff pay differential” for certain jobs at those schools, where there has historically been high turnover.

That should not be mistaken for a longtime third-rail for the teacher’s union: merit pay, officials said.

“This is not merit pay — what this is addressing an issue that we know is important to address,” Carranza said. “This will allow you now to target, not only recruit teachers in those hard to staff areas, but to keep teachers in those hard to staff areas as well.”

Once a school identifies a subject area where it is struggling to attract or keep staff — math, for example — the school will be able to give extra pay to math teachers at the school in question.

“This is about all schools who face this challenge of being able to attract and retain staff who have constant churn of not just the people who work in the building but of the students themselves,” Mulgrew said, stressing the differential is not tied to student performance the way merit pay would be.

The deal also expands “teach leader” roles, and changes requirements for what kinds of post-masters education can result in increased pay for already working teachers.

“This is not just about a fair agreement for working people, it is about making schools better,” de Blasio said.

While Labor Commissioner Bob Linn noted he and UFT President Michael Mulgrew had negotiated past 3 a.m. Thursday morning, there was no acrimony between workers and management in the Blue Room Thursday. Education Chancellor Richard Carranza referred to Mulgrew as his brother from another mother.

“In an environment where it seems like teachers have become the pinata of public discourse — everybody takes a hit — in the City of New York, we are saying that is not the way we view our educators,” Carranza said.

Mayor de Blasio’s current contract with the city’s 75,000 public school teachers expires in February.

United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew called for an emergency meeting of all members of the union’s negotiating committee with an email sent late Wednesday night.

“The DOE has released all members of the negotiating committee to attend a crucial meeting,” Mulgrew’s message read. “I am sorry for the last-minute notice. It could not be avoided.”

Sources with knowledge of the situation said that a new contract is extremely close to completion and its terms are favorable to teachers.

“I’m happy,” one UFT rep said as she left the union’s lower Manhattan headquarters.

De Blasio’s current contract with the city teachers union was enacted in 2014. Talks on the new contract began in June.

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