July - Aug Issue
July 03, 2014

UFT contract gives educators more say

Author: By Matt Smith
Source: NYSUT United

A new nine-year contract approved overwhelmingly by United Federation of Teachers members will provide teachers a greater voice in the education of New York City's students and paves the way for rebuilding the city's public school system with "educators — not bureaucrats and consultants — in the driver's seat," said union President Michael Mulgrew.

The deal, ratified in early June by a 3-to-1 margin, provides UFT members with raises totaling 18 percent when compounded over the span of the contract ending in October 2018. It Includes retroactive pay reaching back to 2009.

The pact contains provisions that will make the teacher evaluation system simpler and more fair; reduce unnecessary paperwork that takes teachers away from students; and provide educators working in collaborative school communities the opportunity to implement teacher-led innovations outside the confines of the UFT contract and Department of Education regulations. Teachers also will have time for professional learning and parent engagement.

"We are entering a new chapter in our school system's history where educators will have a greater say in school-level decisions," Mulgrew said. "We now have to work together — teachers, parents and the DOE — to make these innovations successful."

Mulgrew said the new contract would have been "impossible" under the tenure of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who refused to negotiate with the UFT and whose administration took an antagonistic stance toward the union. Now, with Mayor Bill de Blasio in office, Mulgrew said there is hope for a new era of collaboration between the UFT, City Hall and DOE Chancellor Carmen Farina.

Mulgrew, in a letter to members, said the new contract represents a shared belief 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."

The UFT is NYSUT's largest local affiliate. NYSUT President Karen Magee called the new UFT contract a byproduct of "extraordinary leadership" combined with "remarkable unity."

"This new contract recognizes that UFT members, working together, are a mighty force for positive change," Magee said. "And it's acknowledgment by the city of the incredible job UFT members do every day on behalf of the city's children."