Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City’s first new contract with the United Federation of Teachers since 2009, promising that the deal respects the workforce while protecting taxpayers.
At an anticipated cost of at least $4 billion, details on the retroactive nine-year agreement remain scarce as of Thursday evening. Even so, the mayor promised that deal would be entirely funded within his $72 billion budget’s framework.
“We have reached a landmark agreement for our school teachers,” de Blasio told reporters, “but, first and foremost, a landmark achievement for our families.”
The plan does call for retroactive raises for teachers, along with a $1,000 cash bonus this year, if the deal is eventually approved by the city’s Municipal Labor Committee and ratified by UFT membership.
In return, the city projects $1 billion in health care savings by 2018 through as of yet unspecified “cost-control measures.”
“This agreement will be a gateway to great progress in our school system,” de Blasio added, describing the deal as an opportunity to close an opportunity gap throughout the public school system.
Part of that arrangement includes offering teachers at low-performing schools a $5,000 bonus to stay put, with up to $20,000 in additional bonuses for teachers who help train fellow instructors on the side.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina also announced that up to 200 schools would be exempted from city regulations and UFT contract restrictions to “innovate” in hiring decisions and programming decisions.
“The reality is we have done something historic,” Farina said at one point, turning her head to UFT President Michael Mulgrew after the two shared a hug moments earlier.
“We’ve collaborated,” she said.
“Yes we have,” Mulgrew responded.
“We have communicated,” Farina said.
“Yes, we have,” he repeated with a nod.
“And now we’re going to celebrate,” Farina concluded.
“A little bit,” Muglrew responded, giving a “so-so” gesture with his hand. “We’ve got work to do.”
Mulgrew went on to praise de Blasio for standing by his promises after his election to put educators back in control of schools and collaborate with the union to come up with a fair deal.
“That is what we have done here today,” he said.
The administration’s agreement with the UFT overcomes the city’s largest hurdle as proceeds in attempting to settle almost 150 contracts left unaddressed by the Bloomberg administration.
On Thursday afternoon, ahead of the UFT announcement, the NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association declared it had reached an impasse with its own negotiations with the city and would seek a mediator.
“Our officers are already among the lowest paid big-city police officers in the country, PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. “Now the city wants us to take another three years with no raise and that is simply unacceptable.”
The UFT agreement is now de Blasio’s second contract settlement since taking office in January.
In February, the administration quietly offered the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association retroactive raises and new benefits for 200 police officers with the Department of Environmental Protection.
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria