NYC Teachers Agree to New Labor Deal

A hefty raise and a new nine-year labor deal are the highlights of the new deal signed by the teachers' union of New York City earlier this week, according to an article written by Al Baker of The New York Times.

The vote passed with some 77% of the vote as 90,000 teachers made their opinions known by secret ballot. The raise is for 8%, a considerable amount of that in back pay from a lack of contracts in the regime of the former mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

The biggest red flag in the deal for teachers is the stipulation about health care. The city is making moves to cut $1.3 billion out of health care costs over the course of the nine-year deal. Teachers fear that this will mean their contributing to health care premiums, something they have not had to do previously.

The agreement is viewed as an unofficial welcome wagon from the city's educators to new Mayor Bill de Blasio. Bloomberg's tenure was low-lighted, at least in the eyes of educators, by pay freezes and focusing on test scores, rather than teacher evaluations.

"The last mayor was not very pro-teacher and wasn't interested in our well being," said Suzette Freedman, a third-grade teacher at Public School 75, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, who voted for the contract. "There's not really another option."

According to a report by FOX-TV New York, the deal also includes a revamped teacher evaluation system as well as $1,000 immediate bonuses known as "ratification payments."

Although the deal took a long time to get done, it was not surprising that teachers voted in favor of it. Only one time in the union's history – 1995 – has a contract been voted down in New York City.

Other highlights of the new plan include:

The contract holds the workday to 6 hours and 20 minutes, and raises the starting salary to $56,709 by the end of the contract, from $45,530, the union said. It raises the top salary to $119,471 from $100,049. Teachers nominated by principals to be mentors for other teachers are eligible for bonuses of $7,500 to $20,000.

Some teachers not happy with the new deal are those in the "absent teacher reserve." This group, approximately 1,200 in number, are paid full salaries but are not full-time teachers at any campus. Many of them fell into this designation as the result of schools closing or being downgraded.

The new agreement gives the city's Department of Education more leeway to fire from that pool.

The president of the United Teachers Federation considered the deal a victory for his side, according to a story from Reuters.

"I am proud of our membership and thrilled with this outcome," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. "We are entering a new chapter in our school system's history where educators will have a greater say in school-level decisions."

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