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Final bargaining unit ratifies revised contract

The bargaining unit that includes occupational and physical therapists, school nurses and supervisors of nurses and therapists ratified a revised contract agreement on Jan. 31, allowing those members to receive their February salary increases with all the other UFT-represented employees who work for the Department of Education.

Of the 2,176 bargaining unit members who voted on the new contract, nearly 60 percent voted to ratify it. The contract was approved by a majority of each of the three chapters in the bargaining unit.

The unit went back to the negotiating table after voting down the original contract in October. A tentative agreement was reached on Jan. 29.

Voting took place at all five UFT borough offices, with members given 90 minutes of release time at the end of the workday to vote. Nearly 73 percent of the therapist chapter’s membership turned out to vote.

“The union received an official request from all three chapters to hold the vote as soon as possible so members could get the pay raises effective Feb. 14 like everyone else,” Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter Leader Thomas Ayrovainen said. “I know it was not easy to vote on short notice, but I appreciate the effort members made.”

Ayrovainen and the chapter’s executive board endorsed ratification of the reworked agreement. “This new contract addresses a good number of our concerns,” he said. “Our fight for fairness will continue.”

There was no additional money added to the new agreement; instead, the allotted money was reconfigured. The $5,500 that senior status therapists qualified for after two years of service will be paid in increments to members hired after Sept. 1, 2019. Deferring that money allowed for an increase in the education differential for those achieving master’s degrees. Also, the longevity increases offered in the original contract were converted to a $2,200 longevity after 22 years, increasing the top salary for OTs and PTs to $108,368.

In the revised contract, the UFT and the DOE also agreed to establish a labor-management committee to create a family leave policy for all full-time therapists effective the first day of school of the 2019–20 school year. UFT Director of Personnel Michael Sill said the benefit will mirror what teachers receive. The therapists’ ineligibility for the Family and Medical Leave Act was a sore point among chapter members.

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