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Ferreras applauds deal between city, teachers

Mayor Bill de Blasio (c.) looks on as UFT President Michael Mulgrew (l.) and city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña talk during a City Hall news conference announcing a contract deal. AP Photo/Seth Wenig
TimesLedger Newspapers

Borough leaders last week praised the nine-year, $5.5 billion contract agreement announced by City Hall and the United Federation of Teachers as a step forward in the right direction after years of acrimony between the two sides under the previous administration.

“This landmark deal will not only usher in a new era of educational reform and transparency, but it will also add certainty to the city’s budget process and financial outlook,” said City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), chairwoman of the Council’s Finance Committee. “At long last, the city’s 100,000 teachers who have worked without a contract since November 2009 will be able to educate and enrich the lives of our children with the security and peace of mind that a contract brings.”

The city and the UFT announced a handshake deal last week on the $5.5 billion contract that includes raises, additional time for professional development, more input for parents and more than $1 billion in healthcare cost savings over a nine-year period.

The deal marks the first new contract for the UFT since 2009.

“Five years of working without a contract for our teachers was simply unacceptable,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said.

Both sides from the negotiation hailed the deal as the cooling of long-heated tensions between City Hall and the union.

“Our administration knows that every child matters, the status quo isn’t working, and we must improve public education across the board,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Working together with our dedicated teachers — instead of being locked in rancorous debate — we have found common ground today that moves us closer to those critical objectives.”

The agreement still needs to be ratified by the union’s members.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said that through the deal de Blasio made good on his campaign promise to foster a more cooperative environment.

“This agreement — which works for students, parents, teachers and the city — is proof that with leadership like his, we can do it,” he said.

Under the terms of the proposed contract, teachers will receive an 18 percent bump in wages — including retroactive pay — phased in through 2020.

Teachers will also have more time for professional development and will set aside 40 minutes every Tuesday to meet with parents or reach out through e-mail, telephone or letter.

The union has also agreed to trim about $1.3 billion from its healthcare costs.

The UFT executive board approved the proposal Monday and the delegate assembly was expected to vote Wednesday afternoon. If approved, the proposal would then go to the entire active membership. The final count could come in early June.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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