NYC Teacher Accord Gives City a Map for Other Labor Deals

May 2, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio, confronting the unsettled labor agreements that have loomed over his first months in office, announced a deal on Thursday with New York City’s largest teachers’ union that would raise wages by 18 percent over nine years in exchange for a $1.3 billion reduction in health care costs.

The agreement, which includes $3.4 billion in back pay and must be ratified by the union’s 100,000 members, is a milestone moment for Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat with longstanding ties to the city’s labor movement, and city officials hope it will set a template for dozens of other outstanding contracts with the municipal work force.

It also amounted to a stark break from the tone set by the mayor’s predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, who had urged pay freezes and other stringent measures in an era when many cities are cutting back on wages and benefits for public employees.

Signaling the change at City Hall, Mr. de Blasio unveiled the plan while standing side-by-side at a news conference with the union’s president, Michael Mulgrew, a close ally who had been a bête noire of Mr. Bloomberg’s.

“This is a mayor who actually respects the work force,” Mr. Mulgrew, who leads the United Federation of Teachers, said as Mr. de Blasio beamed beside him.

Mr. de Blasio, a liberal whose mayoralty is viewed as a test case for the national left, hailed the deal as “a great day for our educators” and “a great victory for the taxpayers,” saying the agreement would provide annual raises and promote teacher retention while staying within the contours of the city’s budget.

Officials at the teachers’ union also agreed to an easing of classroom rules that have frustrated public school officials. For instance, it will be easier for the city to fire teachers who are considered poor performers, or who have been accused of sexual misconduct.

It was unclear on Thursday exactly how the union would reduce its health care costs. City and labor officials declined to give details, except to pledge that the reductions would not involve raising workers’ premiums.

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