This story has been updated.
A five-year standoff between New York City’s largest teachers union and city hall has come to an end, thanks to a nine-year contract agreement announced by the two negotiating parties on Thursday. Three anonymous officials close to the negotiations reportedly leaked some of the details of the agreement to The New York Times prior to the announcement.
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which represents about 200,000 New York education professionals, has not had a contract with the city since the last one expired in 2009. A handful of key sticking points made it difficult for the union to come to an agreement with then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, including the more than $3 billion in back pay which UFT officials insisted the city owed to their members. That sum represents raises UFT members would likely have received if the contract had not expired.
One of the sources who spoke to The New York Times said the teachers would receive the desired retroactive pay, doled out over “many years” to minimize the strain on the city budget. In return, the UFT agreed to “significant savings in health coverage.”
Before the full deal was announced, Dana Goldstein, author of the upcoming book The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession, told msnbc that central questions about the future of the UFT have still not been answered.
“These small, incremental raises are a fair deal for teachers, who do a very difficult job. But the red meat of the contract is still unclear: how it will affect working hours and how teachers are evaluated, granted tenure, and fired for poor performance,” she wrote in an email. “To what extent will student achievement play a role? And to what extent will student achievement be measured by standardized test scores? What about teachers who don’t work in the tested grades and subjects? Those are the questions every teachers union in the United States is asking and advocating on.”
In a statement on the deal released after the announcement of the deal, the UFT said the new contract “clarifies and simplifies the evaluation process.”