By Kelsey Durham
The United Federation of Teachers approved a ground-breaking contract this week that will implement several changes to improve education and increase the influence teachers have in the decision-making process inside schools.
Some 90,000 UFT members voted Tuesday to ratify the nine-year contract with about 75 percent of the teachers in favor of the agreement with the city Department of Education. The biggest change guaranteed by the deal comes in the form of a 19.4 percent raise over the nine years of the contract, which ends in 2018, with a retroactive pay increase going back to 2009.
The contract also increases the starting salary for new teachers from $45,530 to $56,709 over the course of the agreement.
“I am proud of our membership and thrilled with this outcome,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. “The UFT and all other city workers were badly served by the previous mayor. We are entering a new chapter in our school system’s history where educators will have a greater say in school-level decisions.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also praised the contract before it was approved Tuesday afternoon while speaking at PS 239, at 17-15 Weirfield St. in Ridgewood, and said if the agreement was ratified it would be a “historic” moment for the city’s school system.
“This contract recognizes that our teachers are the key to our future success,” de Blasio said. “That was not our philosophy in the past and part of what was holding us back.”
The UFT previously rejected offers from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009 because the union felt insulted by what the administration put on the table, according to the UFT.
The new agreement will also allow teachers to set aside time during the workday for training, parent engagement and other activities, the UFT said.
“This contract treats teachers with respect and it’s going to transform us,” de Blasio said Tuesday. “I’m convinced.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.