New York public school teachers are receiving the final installment of the backdated payment promised ten years ago by the city, which this month wanted to defer payments until an arbitrator stepped in on Friday.
But the payment – which should be paid in full on October 15 – will be split into two installments, with the first half coming on October 31 and the other in July 2021 after the new fiscal year begins.
The revised five-year contract was negotiated after the city notified the United Federation of Teachers that it would not be able to pay the final installment of the teachers’ arrears. The arrears agreement was finalized in 2014, several years after teachers failed to receive a raise granted to other public employees during the 2009 and 2010 financial turmoil under the administration of former Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan wrote a letter to UFT President Michael Mulgrew on Thursday, a week after the cash distribution, explaining that the current financial crisis, fueled by the pandemic, made it impossible to make the final total of 900 payments Dollars to make one million.
While the arbitrator’s award recognizes the city’s grave financial plight due to the pandemic, it makes it clear that the city must meet its financial obligations to UFT members. We will continue to stand united against the growing threats to our city and profession. pic.twitter.com/6z9OtWQYBE
– UFT (@UFT) October 10, 2020
On Friday, Mulgrew went to an arbitrator, a stipulated right the union is allowed to exercise under its 2014 agreement with the city. The arbitrator, Martin Scheinman, spent four hours with the two sides setting other provisions, including a no-dismissal provision until June 2021, a threat Mayor Bill de Blasio made over the union if they won an arbitration. In addition, the teachers will receive a salary increase of 3.5% until May next year.
“This is far from a perfect solution for thousands of our members who still have wages owed that can go back up to a decade,” Mulgrew said in a statement. “The decision recognizes the city’s difficult financial circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic, but makes it clear that the city must find a way to meet its financial obligations to its educators.”
Mulgrew was cautious that the city’s ongoing statement that the financial crisis was a cause of delaying payments could be the standard excuse for not making higher payments to teachers.
“If the city believes they can face financial hardship when they have to meet a commitment that is keeping them from saying our raise next May, it cannot meet that commitment,” said Mulgrew in a video posted on YouTube. “So agreements mean nothing for the time being?”
But de Blasio viewed the deal as a win given the city’s $ 450 million savings that year.
“The city is facing its worst financial crisis since 9/11, but we will build on our track record of strong financial management by making the tough decisions and sacrifices we need to keep the city going,” said de Blasio in a statement. “This agreement allows us to avoid firing the teachers who have done so much for New York City schools and students. But make no mistake, the need for the federal and state governments to take action and help us is still urgent. “
Alexis Neider, a teacher in Manhattan, didn’t necessarily call this a victory, but rather a compromise on a saga that had been dragging on for years. She took the news with cautious optimism.
“When I read it yesterday, I had a glass of wine. I thought, ‘I’m going to celebrate this because it has been driving me crazy all day.’ And I felt like I wanted to quit my job. And I’ll count that as a plus; it’s not perfect, “Neider told Gothamist.
For envious people, the town’s disadvantage came at a time when teachers were asked to return to school for face-to-face study where they didn’t feel entirely safe.
“We are making huge sacrifices in our private lives and now in our pockets and bank accounts to keep the city going,” said Neider. “And that money should come from other places, also known as the NYPD, the whole country and this whole city have been saying that all summer given the work we are doing, paying very well. I find that disgusting. “