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May 2, 2014
On May 1, the UFT and DOE announced that they had come to a tentative agreement on a contract. Here are some highlights of the proposed contract.
The proposed contract includes a total package of 18 percent in raises, including all retroactive pay, plus a $1,000 cash bonus.
For the current round, the annual percentages are:
1 percent — 1 percent —$1,000 cash — 1 percent — 1.5 percent —2.5 percent — 3 percent
Teachers can expect the $1,000 cash bonus as soon as the contract is ratified and a 2 percent increase later this year. Other annual raises will be paid in May of each year.
The retroactive payments for the 4 percent and 4 percent that UFT members missed from the previous round — and the associated annual rate increases — will be phased in beginning in 2015 and ending in 2020.
The new contract clarifies and simplifies the evaluation process. Evaluations will now be focused on eight components instead of the current 22.
Under the current system, teachers in grades or subjects not covered by tests can be evaluated in part on schoolwide measures that include results for many students they do not teach. Under the new contract, teachers in non-tested subjects or grades will have the option to be evaluated on the results of students they actually teach.
The union and the DOE will work to expand the available assessments.
Under the new contract, the DOE is obliged after Oct. 15 to send an ATR to any school in the district/borough with a vacancy in the teacher’s license area. The principal retains the discretion to keep the teacher or return him or her to the ATR pool.
Additional Professional Time
The union's 2005 contract lengthened the school day by 2.5 hours each week, or 150 minutes.
The proposed contract reconfigures the 2.5 hours added to the week in 2005, and recovers an additional 80 minutes each month by eliminating a number of faculty meetings and conferences.
Under the new contact — unless a school votes for an alternative — an 80-minute block of time on Mondays will be devoted to school-based professional development and a 35-minute period every Tuesday for professional work, such as collaboration between teachers across subjects or grades. The remainder of the repurposed time will be used for parent contact (see below).
Additional Parent Voice
The agreement creates a 40-minute period every Tuesday for teachers to reach out to parents by email, letter, telephone or face-to-face meetings. Teachers can also use this time to create newsletters, school or class websites or other strategies to increase contact between parents and teachers.
It increases the length of the parent-teacher conferences from 2.5 to three hours and doubles the number of evening parent-teacher conferences from two to four each school year. Evening conference will be held in September, November, March and May.
New Flexibility for Selected Schools
The new contract provides a mechanism for schools to innovate by seeking exemptions to certain Chancellor’s Regulations or UFT contract provisions that could result in initiatives such as a different school day and year; greater teacher voice in hiring decisions; or wider variations in how a school day is laid out.
A joint DOE-UFT panel will review proposals and select up to 200 schools for the program. For a school to participate, the principal and 65 percent of UFT staff in the building must agree to the proposal.
Curriculum vs. Paperwork
The agreement obligates the Department of Education to provide all educators in core subjects with appropriate curriculum.
It also includes new rules to reduce excessive paperwork, including the creation of duplicative and unnecessary electronic records.
The proposed contract includes leadership positions that will allow teachers to remain connected to the classroom while still expanding their reach. “Model teachers” will be empowered to work with teachers in their own school to improve instruction by opening up their classrooms to their colleagues. “Teacher ambassadors” will be paired with a sister school for a year to share and develop best academic practices. Both posts pay $7,500 a year on top of salary.
“Master teachers” will be responsible for sharing best practices in their school and reviewing its impact on student achievement. The post pays $20,000 a year on top of salary.
Background — Wage Deferrals
New York City has previously entered into collective bargaining agreements with municipal unions that deferred wages for multi-year periods.
“In fiscal year 1976 certain employees deferred portions of negotiated wage increases and other items. In conjunction with a September 1982 collective bargaining settlement, an agreement was reached whereby the deferred wages plus accrued interest would be paid over a seven-year period commencing July 1, 1984.” (New York City Comptroller’s 1985 CAFR — Comprehensive Annual Financial Report).
According to the Comptroller’s 1994 CAFR: “In fiscal year 1991, the Board of Education entered into an agreement whereby teachers would defer a portion of their fiscal year 1991 salary. The City will repay the deferred wages of $46.7 million in two installments: (i) one-half to be repaid on September 1, 1995; and (ii) the second half plus interest at 9% per annum on the unpaid balance from September 1, 1995 to be repaid on September 1, 1996.”
Role of Fact Finders
The UFT contract expired October 31, 2009. In February, 2010, PERB appointed a mediator. After mediation failed, PERB appointed a fact-finding panel — Martin Sheinman, Howard Edelman, and Marc Grossman — in the fall of 2012.
The fact-finders have been part of the recent negotiations and played an important role in helping the parties reach a fair contract.