Teachers Union Approves Labor Contract

June 3, 2014 7:38 pm Last Updated: June 3, 2014 7:38 pm

NEW YORK—The city’s teachers voted on Tuesday to approve a nine-year labor contract that includes back pay, 18 percent raises, and reforms of the school system.

The United Federation of Teachers announced Tuesday evening that 77 percent of teachers voted to approve the deal, with more than 90,000 ballots counted.

The finalized deal is a milestone for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office with all of the city’s 152 contracts expired. The contract will cost the city at least $5.7 billion by 2020.

The deal paves the way for labor negotiations with other unions. De Blasio’s executive budget uses the UFT contract as a template to estimate future costs of labor settlements with other unions.

The contract includes $3.4 billion in back pay due to be repaid in increments through 2020. To offset the back pay, part of the contract requires the UFT to come up with healthcare savings totaling $1.4 billion.

Reforms

The contract also sets in motion several reforms. One provision will give teachers at more than 200 schools a greater voice in hiring decisions and in how a school day is programmed. Though the provision impacts only 10 percent of all schools, it is notable because participating schools are allowed to breach both DOE guidelines and UFT contract provisions—breaking the bonds on a bureaucracy many teachers and administrators have found stifling.

Other provisions will reward teachers in high-needs areas as well as those who excel, provide 80 minutes a week for teachers’ professional development, and 40 minutes each week for teachers to engage with parents.

The contract will also make it easier to remove teachers who violate professional standards, expand the definition of sexual misconduct to include cell phone text messages, and simplify the teacher evaluation process.