Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his first major labor deal on Thursday with the United Federation of Teachers that would raise their wages by 18 percent over nine years in exchange for a $1.3 billion reduction in health care costs.
For nearly five years, the UFT’s contract hovered in limbo, as the city’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg refused to negotiate with the teacher’s union over pay increases.
Since 2010, when the UFT contract first expired, Bloomberg put pressure on UFT President Michael Mulgrew to enact pay freezes and cutbacks on benefits for teachers in the new contract before the mayor would agree to sign off.
Bloomberg’s position was, during a time of economic recession, an additional increase on top of the annual step-pay increases was too much. However, de Blasio, who has long-standing ties with the labor movement, struck an entirely different note with Mulgrew.
The new contract– a nine-year agreement dating retroactively back to 2010– will provide annual pay raises, a commitment to teacher retention, as well as $3.4 billion in back pay, all the while staying within the city’s budget, said the mayor.
De Blasio heralded the compromise as “a great day for our educators” and “a great victory for the taxpayers.”
“This is good news that our mayor has taken seriously negotiating these contracts,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito. “It’s the responsible thing to do. I think it was irresponsible for the prior administration to walk away from this.”