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.