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Saturday, November 1, 2014

UFT contract draws mixed reactions

By Maya Rajamani
Posted

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $73.9 billion proposed budget plan includes funding for a long-awaited contract between the United Federations of Teachers (UFT) and the city. The May 1 agreement drew mixed reactions from local educators.

According to the UFT’s website, pending members’ ratification, the contract will boost about 110,000 teachers’ salaries by 18 percent through back pay and intermittent raises by 2020. The contract also keeps teachers’ current health care benefits intact. 

Further, the contract would simplify teacher evaluations, which many UFT members see as unfair and overly complex, and diminish the amount of paperwork teachers must deal with.

In total, the contract will cost about $5.5 billion by 2020, according to city officials. The sum includes roughly $4 billion in retroactive raises. 

Eric Dinowitz, a UFT chapter leader who teaches at Bronx Theater High School, felt it was a fair contract.  

“It’s really reflective of a mayor who understands that schools aren’t a business; they’re part of a community,” he said, adding he felt the new administration has worked to make teachers feel respected.

But Paul Hogan, a Riverdale resident and member of the UFT’s chapter for retired teachers, said if he were he still teaching, he would not vote in favor of the contract. 

“The way the retroactive pay is structured, it amounts to an interest-free loan to the city,” he said. “It’s money that we worked for and earned in 2009, 2010, 2011, and active people are not going to even see that money until 2017, 2018.” 

Still, Mr. Dinowitz said he was happy to see a contract that provided much of what teachers had hoped for, rather than no contract at all. 

“A contract is not going to be perfect for every single person,” he remarked. 

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