Oct. 5, 2005 – With both sides claiming victory in what were at times tough negotiations, the union representing New York City public school teachers and the office of the cityâ€™s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, yesterday announced a tentative deal. The agreement â€“ which must be approved by members of the United Federation of Teachers â€“ ends two years of rancorous talks that grew more intense in the face of an upcoming mayoral election.
"This is a good day for our educators and our students," United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Randy Weingarten said at a joint press conference yesterday. "Weâ€™ve worked long and hard to find ways to pay teachers significantly more and to craft the fact-findersâ€™ recommendations in a way that will work for kids and their teachers."
According to details of the proposed contract made public yesterday, teachers will receive a 14 percent raise stretched out over the life of the contract, which reaches back to June 2003 and expires in October 2007. The pay hike is retroactive to the end of the last contract.
The two sides also agreed to form a labor-management committee to explore cutting class size and adding bonuses for high-demand, high-stress positions, lengthen the school day by ten minutes and the teachersâ€™ school year by two days, and a stronger emphasis on continuing education programs.
In addition, New York agreed to pay education support staff with bachelors degrees more and will create a new position â€“ "lead teacher" â€“ for educators who excel in their duties, a program initiated by a joint parent-teacher organization in one district. Teachers recruited into the program will earn an extra $10,000 per year and are expected to "provide educational support to all teachers in their school," the UFT noted yesterday.
Teachers exchanged a number of traditional labor rights for concessions from the city under terms suggested by arbitrators, the New York Times reported. The deal alters seniority provisions significantly, changing the way schools are assigned, and takes away teachersâ€™ rights to file grievances over critical letters filed by administrators. The union also agreed to grant school principals broader authority over teacher assignments within schools.
"The agreement with the UFT not only raises teacher's salaries but also allows the Department of Education to make meaningful changes to further reform and improve our schools," Bloomberg said yesterday. "The new contract is good for teachers and the City, but most importantly, it is good for New York's 1.1 million schoolchildren."
The deal comes five weeks before voters decide whether to grant Bloomberg another term. The UFT has not endorsed a candidate.