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New York City/Teachers strike deal

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

New York City/Teachers strike deal

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NEW YORK (AP) – New York City and its largest teachers union struck a deal on a new contract today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced, ending a nearly five-year labour dispute and potentially setting a template for negotiations with the city’s other unions.
Teachers will receive back pay equivalent of nearly eight per cent of their salaries and a series of additional small raises through 2018, according to the nine-year contract, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press in advance of the deal announcement.
The contract, which will expire after de Blasio runs for re-election, also will fund merit pay for teachers and provides the city US$1 billion in health care savings over the length of the deal, an important point among city negotiators wary of the budgetary strain caused by rising health care costs across the municipal labour force. De Blasio noted that the agreement is being funded within the city’s current budget framework and called it a victory for taxpayers.
“This agreement will be a gateway to great progress in our school system,” he added at a news conference.
The deal is the first major labour agreement struck by de Blasio, a Democrat who took office in January, and it could affect negotiations with the other nearly 150 city labour unions, all of which have been working with expired contracts.
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), one of the most powerful unions in the city, represents 100 000 teachers and other school employees who have been working on an expired contract since 2009. New York’s public school system serves 1.1 million students, by far the largest in the country.
“We were creative, we were smart, we were respectful, and teachers now have a fair deal going forward,” UFT president Michael Mulgrew said. The new deal will not become official until it is voted on by the union’s members.
The UFT, which long pushed for retroactive raises, will receive four per cent raises for 2009 and 2010, the same figure provided to other unions during that time by de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. The money will start being paid in 2015 and is spread over the next several years.