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UFT Delivers A New Contract

Late Monday evening, the United Federation of Teachers and the City of New York reached a tentative agreement on an unprecedented early contract which provides substantial salary increases, while holding the line on no ‘givebacks.’

The proposed collective bargaining agreement, covering the period from October 13, 2007 to October 31, 2009, provides for an across the board compounded raise of 7.1%. The raises will be payable next school year: a 2% increase on Oct. 13, 2007 and a 5% increase on May 19, 2008. An additional one time cash payment of $750 [pensionable and payable January 2, 2007] will bring the total salary package increase for all members to over 8%.

The contract has no additional time, no diminution of teaching and working conditions and no reduction of pension and health benefits.

A new five year longevity for teachers and guidance counselors with 5 through 9 years of service will provide an additional $1000 of annual salary. A new five year longevity for UFT para-professionals with between 5 and 14 years of service will provide an additional $500 of annual salary. There will also be a new 5 year longevity for most other titles, with different amounts by title. The 5 year longevities will commence with the May 19, 2008 salary increase.

Under the terms of this contract, the top salary for a New York City public school teacher will now reach $100,000 annually. With the adoption of this agreement, salaries of public school educators will have increased between 40% and 45% since 2002.

The City will also increase its contribution to the UFT Welfare Fund, allowing the UFT to enhance its current benefits, and to cap drug co-payments at $1000 per family.

A voluntary severance buyout will be made available to educators who have been in excess for one year without finding a regular assignment.

The number of paid extra-curricular sessions will be increased by 12.

In addition to the salary increases, the proposed contract includes a number of improvements in the teaching and working conditions of New York City public school educators. The highlights include clauses which:

*expunge from personnel files all allegations of corporal punishment which are proven unfounded;
*on a voluntary basis, bring into the 3020-a dismissal process for incompetence a third-party professional educator who makes an independent evaluation of a teacher’s performance, providing a new measure of protection against unfounded charges [this program is very similar to a PIP Plus program, building off our current Peer Intervention program, which the UFT proposed in previous contract negotiation];
*provide a new restoration of health sabbatical for lab specialists and secretaries;
*create a joint UFT/DOE Committee to develop recommendations to reduce or eliminate unnecessary, excessive or redundant paperwork;
*place all new UFT employees on direct deposit, and expand Transit Check; and
*establish a labor-management committee to deal with summer work for nurses and therapists.

A ratification process will now begin. The proposed agreement will go to the UFT Executive Board tomorrow, Tuesday November 7th; if approved by the Board, the UFT Delegate Assembly will vote on sending the agreement to the membership on Wednesday November 8th. Once adopted by the Executive Board and the Delegate Assembly, the agreement will go to the UFT membership for final ratification.

This agreement came out of the most open and complete negotiations the UFT has ever conducted, with the participation of a negotiations committee of over 300 school-based, rank and file members. The committee contained members from every school level, the functional chapters, and every political caucus within the union.

In February, the UFT Delegate Assembly voted to explore contract strategies of ‘no contract, no work’ and coalition bargaining. In June, the UFT formed a coalition with nineteen other municipal labor unions, and the pressure of the coalition led to an agreement between AFSCME’s DC37 and the City which paid 6% over 20 months, with ‘no givebacks.’ Going forward as a lead negotiating union for the coalition, the UFT sought to use that pattern aggressively.

The UFT leadership and the negotiations committee believed that there was a ‘window of opportunity’ to get to an early contract on desirable terms, and that we needed to seize the moment. With a settled contract, New York City public school educators will have a much deserved period of labor stability, and we will be in a position of strength for moving forward on such important issues as class size.

In the negotiations committee and in the schools, our members told us that they wanted an on-time contract, with a real raise, no additional time and no givebacks. With this agreement, the UFT has delivered.

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17 Comments:

  • 1 Patrick
    · Nov 7, 2006 at 11:34 am

    Leo,

    Can you expand or clarify this point on class size? “we will be in a position of strength for moving forward on such important issues as class size”

    Would it not be better to address the class size issue within the context of contract negotiations? The only limits we have now are from the contract. Haven’t you lost your leverage?

    With the question of what to do with the CFE operating funds to be resolved in the next few months, it seems like a particularly inopportune time to cede this point.

    Patrick

  • 2 Civil Servant
    · Nov 7, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    Will the one time $750 payment be pensionable for a longer period than one year, say 2 years, or must you retire within 1 year to get this pensionable benefit.

    Thank You, Great Job

  • 3 Leo Casey
    · Nov 7, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Patrick:

    Since the 1975 fiscal crisis, the City has counted reductions in class size against the salary increases of teachers. In a survey of our members, they made it clear that lowering class size was a priority, but they did not want it taken out of their salary increases.

    With the CFE lawsuit finally coming to what appears a resolution with the election of Spitzer as Governor, a key issue will be how the additional funds are spent. With a contract under our belt, we will be free to advocate to have a significant portion of them spent on lowering class size.

    Civil Servant:

    The $750 cash payment is a one time payment, so it would be calculated into retirement on that basis. If you are like me, and have girls that just started high school, such that retirement is a minimum of ten years away, it won’t effect your retirement.

  • 4 Schoolgal
    · Nov 7, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    Why is the contract calling for a joint committee to develop recommendation for a decrease in paperwork??
    Just ask any teacher what needs to be done, and put the limits into the contract. Why should I vote for a “committee” which does nothing to help us now when we have been suffering for years, and will continue to suffer until this “committee” comes to some agreement (like we can really trust the DoE on anything).

    Also, please expand on the ATR issue. Will they get a full pension when so many are within years of retirement, or is it a one-time settlement. Please be specific to the actual dollars and benefits they will receive.

    Finally, how much more will we be contributing towards health benefits (not Welfare Fund)?

  • 5 oz
    · Nov 7, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    Why the rush? And what about negotiating for atleast a few quality of work life issues? I’ll give you just one example. How about eliminating the 37 1/2 mins from training days (like today)? If it’s supposed to be a form of assisting needy children, then why am I staying when there are no kids?

  • 6 NYC Educator
    · Nov 7, 2006 at 7:10 pm

    Also, kindly explain why it’s a good idea to accept another raise that lags behind cost of living.

    While it’s preferable to accept less than cost of living without a mountain of givebacks, I’m confused as to precisely what is so good about making effectively less money year after year.

  • 7 apapercut
    · Nov 7, 2006 at 7:37 pm

    When will the rank and file have a union?
    I know, I know the rank and file had their chance during the summer vacation to fill out an oddly worded survey. It would have been nice to have time to discuss some of the issues the survey raised with other members. It would have been nice to have time to think about, maybe even learn about, those issues. It would have been nice to have had a say in whether the rank and file wanted to or should join the “coalition”.
    It would be nice to have a voice that is heard by the people we vote for to represent “us”. It would be nice if we could get back some of the givebacks from the past contracts. I would be nice if the retirees did not have a say in present contracts.
    It will be nice when the rank and file stops voting in people to think for them and starts thinking for themselves. It will be nice when the rank and file starts telling their representatives in our union what they expect from them and what they will not tolerate from them.
    That is when the rank and file will have a union.

  • 8 Educat
    · Nov 7, 2006 at 9:02 pm

    ratificatation by membership nov.8?? wow! very speedy indeed. however, i remember the last deal we were told it would take WEEKS for it to reach membership ( till after the election). we all suspected a game was being played, maybe this confirms it?

  • 9 mvplab
    · Nov 7, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    Educat, You have the dates wrong. Nov 8 is the DA when delegates can review the Memorandum of Agreement and either recommend it to go before the membership for ratification or to turn it down and send the negotiating team back to the table. That ratification vote should take a few weeks.

  • 10 Peter Goodman
    · Nov 8, 2006 at 11:25 am

    apapercut

    * retirees DON’T vote on the contract – only active members.
    * a 300 member negotiating team that cut across the union by division, by gender, by age and by political caucus was heavily involved in the process.
    * the response to the survey was the largest that the union ever had!!
    * the October DA allowed members plenty of time to voice opinions – it was a huge crowd.
    * this afternoon delegates will have the opportunity to raise questions and voice opinions.
    * I know for a fact that Randi is not responsible for today’s lousy weather, she may be powerful, but not that powerful.

  • 11 MichaelB
    · Nov 8, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    I agree with oz about the lack of improvements to our working conditions. There’s nothing in this agreement that will make my life easier or enable me to become a better teacher. Sadly, new teachers, many of them quite talented, will continue to leave the system in droves. I’m outraged as a public school parent as well as a teacher that Bloomberg and Weingarten are willing to perpetuate the status quo.

    So much for all those heartfelt suggestions we put on the survey this summer.

  • 12 apapercut
    · Nov 8, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    Peter Goodman,
    “* retirees DON’T vote on the contract – only active members.” I wrote, “I would be nice if the retirees did not have a say in present contracts.” And they do have a say.

    “* a 300 member negotiating team that cut across the union by division, by gender, by age and by political caucus was heavily involved in the process.” I wrote, ” It would be nice to have a voice that is heard by the people we vote for to represent “us”. The key word here is HEARD.

    “* the response to the survey was the largest that the union ever had!!” The response may be the largest the union has ever had, but what was the percentage? Very small if I’ve heard correctly.

    “* the October DA allowed members plenty of time to voice opinions – it was a huge crowd.” Again I say, It will be nice when the rank and file starts telling their representatives in our union what they expect from them and what they will not tolerate from them.

    “* I know for a fact that Randi is not responsible for today’s lousy weather, she may be powerful, but not that powerful.” I agree that she is not responsible for the weather.

    apapercut

  • 13 DB
    · Nov 8, 2006 at 9:17 pm

    Peter Goodman,
    -Where is the response to the survery? Perhaps it was the largest response to show how satisfied the the rank and file are.
    -From what I heard about the Oct. DA meeting much of the time was used by someone giving a presentation. You are allowed to voice your opinion only if the leadership wants to hear it and agrees with it. If you are in the opposition you are not given a chance to speak.
    -Please clarify what retired members can and cannot do pertaining to the voting and decision making process.
    -For something that happened so fast how “heavily involved” could a 300 member team be?

  • 14 Persam1197
    · Nov 9, 2006 at 4:52 am

    The City is expecting a windfall in tax revenues especially from Wall Street. If this was the first offer, we could negotiate for a better settlement that at least covers the rate of inflation and/or improved working conditions. It would seem as if we’re rushing this process.

    This new 5 year longevity is problematic at best. If it’s what it seems, we’ll have to wait 27 years to reach the $100,000 milestone. Compare that with 15 years in the surrounding school districts.

    I’m just not sure about this strategy of let’s take the money and run.

  • 15 paulrubin
    · Nov 9, 2006 at 9:04 am

    It’s a 5 year longevity increase, not a 27. It doesn’t figure to impact veteran teachers at all other than direct money that could have been used at the top to fund teachers closer to the bottom in a futile attempt to retain them longer as though intelligent people would change their career plans for a few hundred dollars a year after taxes spread out over 24 checks.

    And this deal was agreed to quickly because the deal was foisted on us by DC37. That’s the strategy and it’s not in our control.

  • 16 jelfrank
    · Nov 10, 2006 at 11:08 pm

    Several I spoke with that were on the negotiating committee said it was a sham; that their opinions were never part of the real process. They were astonished that Randi took off in her own direction and came up with a settlement.

    Why else was the leadership having focus groups, quietly asking teachers about two year extension and 6 – 8 percent increases, unbeknownst to the negotiating committee early in October.

  • 17 HS_ teacher
    · Nov 13, 2006 at 12:36 am

    The sad peice about this is that it is a great deal but because groups of peopledecided to lie to people to create a great distrust about evrything including what has been done for 40+ years. They didn’t say anything about it until it was too late and that is why they are so vocal now.