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Breaking: Union site announces new contract deal, including full retro pay

Updated, 3:30 p.m. — “The wait is over!”

That’s how the United Federation of Teachers has announced details around the tentative contract agreement it has reached with the city.

The announcement was posted on its website Thursday before the union and City Hall began spreading the news. Since then, the union restricted access to that page and the mayor’s office scheduled a press conference for 4 p.m.

The nine-year deal will last until October 2018, and salaries for UFT members will increase 18 percent over that period, according to the UFT’s announcement. The deal includes full retroactive pay for the years since the union last had a contract, and health benefits and pensions will be “preserved” at the same levels, the announcement says. Union members will get a $1,000 signing bonus when the deal is ratified, the release adds.

The deal will also include a path for teachers to earn higher salaries in exchange for taking on leadership roles, which Chalkbeat described Thursday. This “career ladder” compensation system would represent a major shift from the union’s longtime lockstep pay system. The UFT announcement says the new system will “foster idea-sharing by allowing exemplary teachers to remain teachers while extending their reach to help others.”

The union said the deal contains “major changes” that make teacher evaluations “simpler and fairer.” Now, teachers will be rated based on eight components of an observation rubric, rather than the current 22 — a shift that Chancellor Carmen Fariña has endorsed and the union has previously opposed. In addition, there will be a “a better system for rating teachers in non-tested subjects” and teachers will not have to submit unit plans, family newsletters, and other “artifacts” as part of the evaluation process, the UFT said. Also, when teachers are rated ineffective, other educators will be brought in to review their work rather than “consultants or other third parties,” the announcement said.

Educators will also face far less “unnecessary and duplicative paperwork, both written and electronic,” the union added.

The Daily News reported some wins for the city that the UFT did not trumpet, such as a streamlined process for terminating teachers accused of sexual misconduct and a change to the the Absent Teacher Reserve, the pool of teachers who are on the city’s payroll but lack a teaching position. Under the deal, those teachers would get tryout periods at schools, after which they would be subject to an expedited termination hearing if the schools’ principals do not approve of their performance, the Daily News reports.

The UFT’s release doesn’t say how the pay raises will be spread out over time, but the Daily News article says that members will receive lump payments over “multiple years.”

The deal must still be approved by the Municipal Labor Committee, the joint group of city unions. Some members of that group have reportedly expressed concerns that the city will fund the teachers’ back pay with savings from health-care benefit concessions that it is seeking from the unions, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Here are some other highlights from the UFT’s announcement on Thursday:

Time and tools

“Finally, the agreement gives educators more time to carry out their professional responsibilities without adding any new time to the work day. The 150 minutes of extended time can be reconfigured in a variety of ways to build in more time for professional work, professional development and parent engagement.

The proposed agreement also obligates the DOE to provide educators in core subjects with appropriate curriculum, something which we have long fought for.”

Teacher leadership and voice

Under the tentative deal, collaborative school communities will have new opportunities to innovate outside the confines of the UFT contract and DOE regulations. A new program known as Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) will give educators in participating schools greater voice in decision-making and a chance to experiment with new strategies.”

And UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s letter:

Dear Colleagues,

The wait is over! Earlier today we reached a tentative contract agreement with the Department of Education that recognizes the hard work that we do every day in the classroom and restores the dignity of our profession after years of abuse.

It is a contract for educators but, of equal importance, it is also a contract for education that will not only benefit us but also the students, schools and communities we serve.

Working in partnership with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina, we now have the opportunity to rebuild our city’s school system with educators — not bureaucrats or consultants — in the driver’s seat. Our agreement is the product of a shared belief that it is our school communities that must be the agents of change and that, when we educators are empowered to use our professional expertise, we can solve our common challenges and develop new ways to improve outcomes for our students.

Our proposed agreement, which is pending Municipal Labor Committee approval and ratification by the membership, includes the pay increases we deserve after working for five years without a contract — without a single raise.

Below are the highlights.

Sincerely,

Michael Mulgrew

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