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Mayor de Blasio, UFT Reach Preliminary Agreement on 9-year Contract Ushering in Key New Reforms and Savings

May 1, 2014

Landmark agreement will bolster classroom innovation, retain good teachers, save more than $1 billion in health care costs, and empower parents

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NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the City of New York and the United Federation of Teachers have reached a preliminary contract agreement.

The 9-year agreement will implement a number of groundbreaking reforms that will make New York City schools laboratories of innovation and improve public education for every student, while also making important changes that will provide more than $1 billion in health care cost savings over the next four years, and support excellence in teaching.

“Our administration knows that every child matters, the status quo isn’t working, and we must improve public education across the board. 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.”

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “Mayor de Blasio said we could make the city better if we all worked together in a spirit of respect and cooperation. This agreement—which works for students, parents, teachers and the city—is proof that with leadership like his, we can do it.”

“Today, you are seeing the results of educators coming together and doing what is best for our students. We believe the very essence of this city’s success is in our schools, and by restoring the dignity and respect to the people who teach our children, we are laying the foundation of grand reform and cultivating the next generation of great educators,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, a lifelong educator. “We are validating that teaching is a craft and should be a highly respected profession, marking a new era of inclusivity. We are changing the way teachers, school leaders and families work together to enable the highest quality learning for all students.” 

The agreement respects workers with a fair deal and provides pathways for teachers to help their colleagues while earning additional pay. The agreement also protects taxpayers, because it can be fully funded within the city’s current budget framework, without the need for tax increases.

The UFT’s 110,000 professional employees have worked without a contract since November 2009, and this agreement, once ratified by the union’s membership, would constitute the first major labor agreement struck by the de Blasio administration. It fulfills the mayor’s pledge to achieve an agreement that is respectful, fair, fiscally responsible, and embraces reform. The agreement covers the past four and a half years in which teachers went without a contract, and extends until 2018.

Those raises are made achievable in part through a historic and sweeping reform of public employee health care, amounting to more than $1 billion by 2018, along with additional city resources. Were these reforms, designed to save money while protecting current member benefits, extended across the municipal labor force, they would yield at least $3.4 billion total over the same four years, effectively bending the curve of rising health care costs for the first time.

Details of the agreement include:

Transforming Public Education to Better Serve Our Students and Schools

  • Bring Innovation to Scale in Public Schools: The new contract provides a pathway at up to 200 schools for innovations, ranging from reworking the school day and year, to giving teachers a greater voice in hiring decisions and wider variations in how a school day is programmed. The changes will be accomplished through exemptions to certain Chancellor’s Regulations or UFT contract provisions. A joint DOE-UFT panel will review proposals and select schools for the program—ultimately representing more than 10 percent of all public schools. For a school to participate, the principal and 65 percent of UFT staff in the building must agree to the proposal.
  • More Parent Voice: The agreement repurposes existing time through a pilot program that dedicates 40 minutes every Tuesday for teachers to reach out to parents by email, letter, telephone, or face-to-face meetings. Teachers can also use this time to create newsletters, school or class websites, or other strategies to increase contact between parents and teachers. It increases the length of the parent-teacher conferences from 2.5 to 3 hours and doubles the number of evening parent-teacher conferences from 2 to 4 each school year. Evening conferences will be held in September, November, March and May.
  • Ongoing Learning: The agreement establishes a pilot program to provide 80 minutes of professional development time each Monday, a repurposed block of time teachers will use to strengthen their craft through peer-to-peer learning, coaching and training to better meet the needs of our students.

Rewarding and Retaining Great Teachers

  • Support Quality Public Schools in Underserved Communities: The agreement establishes new incentives to attract and retain quality teachers in high-need schools. The “Hard to Staff School Differential” will additionally compensate each instructor at up to 150 schools, selected at the Chancellor’s discretion.
  • Reward the Best Teachers and Keep them in the Classroom: The contract establishes an unprecedented career ladder for excellent teachers through new Ambassador, Model and Master Teacher positions, compensated with an additional $7,500, $7,500 and $20,000 per year, respectively. These positions, created at the Chancellor’s discretion, will give teachers who excel additional responsibilities beyond the classroom, including coaching their colleagues.
  • Streamline Teacher Evaluations: The new contract clarifies and simplifies the evaluation process, and significantly reduces paperwork. Evaluations will now be focused on eight components, instead of the current 22. Under the current system, teachers in grades or subjects not covered by tests can be evaluated in part on school-wide measures that include results for many students they do not teach. Under the new contract, teachers in non-tested subjects or grades will now have the ability to be graded only on the performance of students they actually teach.

Reforming Our School System

  • Fire Teachers who Behave Inappropriately: The agreement expands the definition of sexual misconduct to include behaviors like inappropriate texting.
  • Improving the ATR process: For the first time, there will be a clear, effective and expedited process requiring no more than 50 days to permanently remove teachers from the Absent Teacher Reserve pool for behavior inconsistent with the expectations established for professionals. Hearings are not to exceed one day. There will be no forced placements. The contract respects and preserves mutual consent hiring.

Delivering Significant Health Care Cost Savings
The City and the UFT have identified a menu of potential significant health care cost reductions. Pending approval by the Municipal Labor Committee, a range of cost-control measures designed to save costs while maintaining benefits will be implemented to achieve targeted savings. These initiatives include more efficient purchasing of health care services and other actions. Those changes will yield more than $1 billion over the next four years.

Providing Fair Wages
Under the proposed agreement, teachers would receive similar raises to those that had been granted by the previous administration to much of the municipal workforce of 4 percent each for 2009 and 2010. The raises will be restructured and provided to teachers in increments from 2015 to 2020. The agreement includes a one-time $1,000 ratification payment. Wage increases constituting a new pattern for the following years are on the schedule below:

·         May 2013:       1%

·         May 2014:       1%

·         May 2015:       1%

·         May 2016:       1.5%

·         May 2017:       2.5%

·         May 2018:       3%

The proposed 9-year contract would begin, retroactively, on November 1, 2009 and expire on October 31, 2018. The terms of the agreement must be approved by the union’s full in-service membership.

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