The UFT has begun meeting with the Department of Education about the expired DOE contracts, UFT President Michael Mulgrew announced during his report to the Delegate Assembly on Feb. 5.
“I’m putting our negotiating committee on notice: There is talking going on,” he said.
UFT members employed by the DOE have been working without a contract since October 2009. Besides salary and retroactive pay, he said, “teacher evaluations and paperwork are two other key issues that must be addressed.”
He said more meetings were scheduled for the following week.
“We want to move this forward,” he said.
Mulgrew also made reference to an article inThe New York Times that morning regarding the teachers contract that he said indicated “the city has money and can afford a retro package.”
He said it was important to have a contract ratified by June in order to implement any changes next September. Due to the Bloomberg administration’s failure to bargain, every municipal union contract in the city has expired, leaving a major budget hurdle for Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“It’s been too long,” Mulgrew said. “Everybody deserves a raise and should have gotten one years ago.”
The UFT president also thanked the delegates for attending despite a snow and ice storm that day, which made travel throughout the city difficult. He said postponing the meeting was considered, but forecasts for more snow and the approaching midwinter recess made that risky since the UFT constitution mandates one meeting each month.
He also said keeping schools open that day despite the weather was not an easy decision for school officials since the state requires a minimum number of 180 instructional days during the school year. With a snow day used on Jan. 3, there are only two days left before that minimum is reached and the winter shows no signs of letting up, he said. Last year, the midwinter break was cut short to make up for time lost due to Hurricane Sandy, he reminded the body.
(Eight days later, on Feb. 13, the mayor and the chancellor kept schools open despite near-blizzard conditions, a decision that the UFT was public in opposing.)