Claudia Irizarry Aponte, The City
Mayor Eric Adams and the city’s second-largest union, the United Federation of Teachers, struck a tentative five-year agreement on Tuesday, one that significantly raises starting salaries for newly hired teachers and includes a major expansion of remote learning.
The deal, which must be approved by the union’s 120,000 members, guarantees raises of 17.58% to 20.42% by 2026, including compounded wage increases and bonuses.
In addition to broadening an existing pilot on remote learning, high schools and combined middle-high schools will be able to offer virtual learning programs after school and on weekends. Students and teachers will have to volunteer to participate in the remote programs, according to a summary of the agreement.
The UFT and the Adams administration also agreed to a yearly, perpetual retention bonus, which will top out at $1,000 by 2026, and an additional one-time $3,000 ratification bonus.
The starting salary for new teachers would be $72,349, including the bonuses, by the end of the proposed agreement — up from the current $61,070 floor, according to the UFT. The top salary for paraprofessionals would be $56,761.
The deal is retroactive to September 2021, when the most recent contract expired. It provides for 3% raises for the first three years and 3.25% bonus in the final two years, a pattern similar to that set by District Council 37 in February.
Adams announced the agreement from the City Hall rotunda Tuesday afternoon alongside UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Schools Chancellor David Banks and Office of Labor Relations Commissioner Renee Campion.
“I’m proud to announce that the city of New York has reached a tentative five-plus year contract agreement with the United Federation of Teachers that provides substantial wage increases for the people who teach, support and safeguard our children and secures a fair deal for taxpayers as well,” Adams said.
The after-hours virtual learning expansion in the nation’s largest school district builds on a small 2018 pilot that allows students to log in, from their own school buildings, to take online courses taught by public school teachers in other parts of the city.
The program outlined in Tuesday’s tentative agreement would begin in the 2023-2024 school year, with 25% of high schools eligible to be selected. All high schools will be eligible to participate by 2027-28, according to the UFT’s summary of the agreement.
Students and teachers would not be required to participate in virtual learning. Rather, schools where students miss hours or days of school because of work would be able to offer virtual lessons outside of traditional school hours. Teachers would not take extra time in order to teach the after-hours virtual lessons: their time will be redistributed.
Adams said he was “proud” of the proposed remote learning experiment, saying it “will create new opportunities for our students, including those who want the ability to take classes at non-traditional times like evenings and weekends, as well as those whom traditional in-person schedules don’t work for.”
Mulgrew also noted the remote-learning pilot would also benefit students who fall behind on literacy.
In line with the contract covering DC37 municipal workers, some UFT members who do not work directly in schools would be eligible to work remotely up to two days a week under the deal, according to the teachers’ union.
Campion and Mulgrew said health care premiums and benefits, a key concern for many union members, remain unchanged.
“We’re not getting rid of our benefits,” Mulgrew said in response to questions from THE CITY. “I wish the rest of America would do what we’re doing here in New York City because health care is a crisis and it is destroying the pocketbooks of so many families.”
Mulgrew also announced the tentative agreement will cut in half — from 15 to eight years — the length of time it takes most teachers to reach a salary of $100,000.
The union president also highlighted the retention bonus as a win for members.
“And that goes on forever, in perpetuity,” Mulgrew said. “We’re saying to all of our titles and every member, whether you’re in the first year or your 25th year, New York City is saying that we appreciate you, and we recognize the challenges that you take on every day.”
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