New York Daily News

May 2, 2014


Mayor de Blasio, city teachers agree to tentative nine-year contract including back pay, bonuses

Deal would also include health-care savings, extra pay for working in poor neighborhoods.

BY Jennifer Fermino, Stephen Rex Brown, Ben Chapman

Ending a bitter dispute that stretched nearly half a decade, Mayor de Blasio and the teachers union agreed Thursday on a new contract that potentially sets a pattern of modest raises for the other municipal unions.

Under the tentative nine-year contract, the nearly 100,000 members of the United Federation of Teachers would receive salary increases totaling 18%.

In return, the union agreed to accept changes to some work rules and reduce health care costs by $1.3 billion. However, details of the health care savings still have to be worked out.

It was the first major labor agreement negotiated by de Blasio, and a deal that had eluded his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who left the teachers union without a contract since 2009 and the other 151 city unions without deals since 2011.

“What we’ve achieved here is not only the end of a stalemate...we’ve also set forward on the path of reform,” de Blasio said.

Highlights include:

  • A 4% raise for the 2009-10 school year, and 4% for 2010-11, the amount Bloomberg gave to the city’s other unions during that time. The back pay will be paid over several years, beginning in 2015.
  • No raise but a $1,000 payment for 2011-12, and annual raises of 1%, 1%, 1%, 1.5%, 2.5% and 3% for the six school years 2012-13 through 2017-18.
  • Mandating 80 minutes each Monday for teacher professional development and 40 minutes each Tuesday for teacher-parent engagement, and increasing the number of parent-teacher conferences to four per year.
  • Allowing 200 schools to become incubators of change by “uncoupling” them from city and union rules, and giving 1,200 teachers languishing in a reserve pool the chance to try out at two schools.
  • Offering high-performing teachers $5,000 a year to work at 150 schools in poor areas, and bonus payments of up to $20,000 a year for highly rated teachers.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who bitterly feuded with Bloomberg, heaped praise on de Blasio during a City Hall news conference announcing the deal.

“I call this the contract for education,” said Mulgrew. “This is a mayor who actually respects a workforce, and says they do a good job.”

Under a concept known as pattern bargaining, the first municipal labor agreement sets the parameters for other agreements for the same time period.

Citing pattern bargaining, business groups and government watchdogs said the UFT deal establishes a financially sound framework for all the agreements the city must now forge with the other municipal unions.

“The administration and the UFT have come up with a formula under which all city contracts can be funded within the existing city budget, without tax increases, while still offering competitive compensation and introducing critical reform of a health care insurance program for employees and retirees that the city can no longer afford,” said Kathryn Wylde, CEO of the Partnership for New York City, a business group.

“This a good basis for discussion with the other unions,” added Citizens Budget Commission President Carol Kellermann. “They should understand the fiscal realities the teachers union was able to see.”

But some of the city’s uniformed services unions appeared to be dissatisfied with the UFT deal because of the relatively modest raises for the years beginning in 2012.

Just before the teachers union deal was announced, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said the Public Employment Relations Board had granted its request to declare an impasse in the negotiations between the PBA and the de Blasio administration.

The impasse will allow the union to argue before a mediator that it deserves raises beyond the parameters set by the teachers union.

Asked about the potential objections to the UFT deal by the other unions, Mulgrew said, “Talk to them in a couple of days, after I talk to them. How’s that?”

The city’s director of labor negotiations, Bob Linn said, “We think that overall its a fair package, and we hope to be able to extend that to other employees.”

Watchdogs raised a red flag about the lack of agreement on how to achieve the $1.3 billion in health care savings called for under the contract.

City officials said they had a long list of proposals to achieve those savings, such as centralizing prescription drug purchases for union members and auditing people receiving benefits to weed out those not entitled to them.

The de Blasio administration suggested that the health care cost-control measures would save a total of $3.4 billion by 2018 if applied to all the city’s unions.

Changes to health care provisions must still be approved by the Municipal Labor Committee. And the UFT membership — which includes secretaries, guidance counselors and paraprofessionals — still must vote on the contract. But UFT approval is expected.

With Erin Durkin and Corinne Lestch