The NY Times has a labor piece that focuses on the UFT's non-binding fact finding arbitration that will more than likely lead to a new UFT contract. The article sheds very little light for readers of this blog as we have been writing about how municipal contracts are settled for years.
The Times tells us the UFT is seeking for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 the same salary increases that almost every other city union received based on pattern bargaining. One city union settles on a contract and that sets a pattern and then all of the others receive the same financial settlement.
In the last round of bargaining, the pattern that was set by DC 37 was a 4% salary increase in year one followed by a 4% raise in year two without givebacks.
The UFT contract expired in 2009. Our last raise under the preceding contract was in 2008. If we were to receive those two 4% pay hikes everyone else was given, the retroactive pay would cost the city a great deal of money (I estimated around $30,000 for senior teachers) since it would have to be added to the salary structure since 2009. Basically, the city owes us the money former Mayor Michael Bloomberg refused to pay.
The only new information we learned from the Times is that negotiations are ongoing; the fact-finders are not writing up a report in isolation. According to the article, "Officials from the city and the teachers’ union will meet with the fact-finding panel next week, and it is possible that the two sides could reach an agreement on their own."
Do not underestimate the possibility of the UFT and city coming to a grand bargain and settling up on two contracts at once. While the arbitration panel can only review the 2009-2011 period, there is nothing to prevent the city and UFT from finalizing two contracts at the same time. The UFT could even set a new pattern for the current round of bargaining for all city employees. Remember, all of the unions are working with expired contracts.
Also, do not forget that a new teacher evaluation system that adheres to state education law must be incorporated into our next contract. The UFT agreed to allow State Education Commissioner John King to impose an evaluation system on city teachers last year. Any tweaks in the evaluation system called Advance (Danielson observations plus rating teachers on student test scores) must be agreed upon in these contract negotiations.
Finally, I do not predict that Absent Teacher Reserves will be given a time limit to find a job or be fired in these negotiations. It's not going to happen.