[The following email was sent to UFT members on Oct. 11, 2018.]
I am pleased to inform you that we have reached a tentative contract agreement with the Department of Education ahead of schedule. This agreement recognizes your hard work and dedication and empowers us to improve the teaching and learning conditions in our schools so we can provide the best possible education to our students.
We began this process a year ago when we sent online contract surveys to members in all divisions and functional chapters. With your feedback in hand, we convened a 400-member negotiating committee that has met regularly throughout the bargaining process. Through tough, yet respectful negotiations with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, we have hammered out a tentative contract that addresses the top priorities of UFT members.
We have called a special Delegate Assembly for Friday afternoon. If UFT delegates vote to recommend the agreement, you will have the opportunity to vote on it.
If ratified by the membership, the contract will provide pay increases of 2 percent, 2.5 percent and 3 percent spread out over 43 months (Feb. 14, 2019-Sept. 13, 2022). Classroom paraprofessionals with more than five years on the job will receive a $1,200 longevity increase in addition to the contractual raises. Paras with under five years will receive a $500 longevity on top of their raises. These pay increases are in addition to the lump-sum payments payable this month and in 2019 and 2020 that were negotiated as part of the 2014 contract.
Teachers told us in their contract survey responses that reducing the number of annual observations was a priority. Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, teachers rated Highly Effective and teachers rated Effective for two years in a row will be observed a minimum of two times a year. Teachers rated Effective for the current year, but rated Developing, Ineffective or Unsatisfactory for the prior school year, will be observed a minimum of three times.
The tentative contract will expand the authority of school-based UFT consultation committees, empowering them to raise and address issues of professional development, basic instructional supplies, curriculum, inadequate space and workload. Modeled on our successful paperwork dispute process, these workplace issues will first be addressed at the school, but the chapter leader can escalate these issues to the district and central levels if they cannot be resolved at the school. New anti-retaliation language in the tentative contract will protect you if a supervisor tries to retaliate against or harass you for using your professional voice and raising concerns.
We negotiated major new protections for paraprofessionals as well. A paraprofessional can no longer be suspended without pay indefinitely as investigations drag on for months and years. Under the tentative contract, paras will have due process rights similar to teachers.
School safety was another major concern raised in the contract survey responses. The Central Paperwork and Operations Committee will establish and enforce system-wide standards for school safety and discipline. The contract will also bolster the role and responsibilities of the UFT chapter leader on the School Safety Committee.
The tentative agreement also creates an accelerated process designed to dramatically reduce the time that thousands of students remain in oversize classes every year. All class size overages that can’t be resolved at the school by the 10th day of school will go to the UFT district representative and the superintendent to address. And by day 21, unresolved issues at that level will get escalated to a central labor management committee that will meet three days a week every week to bring the remaining classes within contractual limits. Any oversize classes not reduced by this process will be fast-tracked through arbitration, where an arbitrator will now have the authority to impose a remedy.
This tentative contract expands the array of courses that teachers can take to attain the 30 credits beyond a Master’s degree so teachers can apply more relevant and more affordable professional development toward that differential. Currently, teachers must have 30 traditional college credits. In the new process, the DOE and the UFT will pre-approve a broader range of PD, including some CTLE courses, as valid “A+ credits” toward the differential. College credits, P-credits and CLEP credits can still be in the mix, and we made sure that those teachers who already have the differential will not lose what they’ve already earned. The new requirements will be phased in for those already in the process of attaining their MA+30.
Under the tentative agreement, a Bronx Collaborative Schools Model will be created to help support high-needs schools — but this time with changes driven from the bottom up, not the top down. Up to 120 schools, mostly in the Bronx, will be identified for inclusion in the program based on staff turnover, student achievement and other criteria, but the chapter leader and the principal must both agree to participate. These schools will form joint labor-management committees and be provided with support to make significant changes in school operations. Each school will make its own decisions on how to improve school climate, reduce teacher turnover and increase academic achievement. The changes could include an additional $5,000 to $8,000 per year for teachers in a hard-to-staff license or title. This pilot program will sunset in June 2022, unless the UFT and the DOE agree to extend it.
We have also negotiated a process to reduce the backlog of non-class-size grievances and speed up the grievance process so members get quicker relief.
If the delegates recommend this tentative contract to you, we’ll be sharing the complete Memorandum of Agreement and the salary schedules for every title. It will all be available in a special Contract 2018 section of the UFT website.
I hope you agree that this is a contract that we can all wholeheartedly support.