New York City public school teachers are going into their third week of their contract negotiations, and union officials are worried that the teachers’ demands will be used against them by their management.
The New York State Education Department announced on Tuesday that the union will seek a new contract with an additional year of service after the current one expires in 2021.
In a letter to the union, the department wrote that the district has a long history of negotiating contracts with unions that “undermine teachers’ ability to provide effective services.”
It added that “a union with such a history and the capacity to negotiate with the superintendent of schools to raise pay would be unlikely to consider any proposal which undermines the integrity of the teachers contract or the public education system.”
The union wants to make “significant changes to pay and benefits” and has asked for a pay increase to $10.60 per hour, the letter said.
But, union officials said that they are not convinced that their current contract with the district would provide enough of a raise to offset the cost of their continued work.
The district is seeking an increase in the minimum wage from $6.15 to $7.25 per hour and to allow them to negotiate collective bargaining.
But the union has said that it does not want to make any changes to the district’s contract.
In their letter, the union asked the department to consider “whether it is in the best interests of the district to negotiate a new labor agreement that provides an additional three years of service, or if it is more appropriate to seek a two-year contract.”
The New Jersey-based union, which represents about 1,200 public school educators in the city, has been trying to win concessions from the district for more than three years.
It is also seeking a contract that would keep its members on the job at a rate that would be higher than what other unions receive.
The union’s contract with Queens Public Schools expired in 2015.
Since then, union members have negotiated the contract with administrators, but have not seen a raise.
The new contract, which has not yet been finalized, would offer more money and benefits to the teachers and would allow them more flexibility in the classroom.
But teachers say the new contract will put them in a tough bargaining position with their school district.
The current contract was originally offered in December 2016.
But negotiations have been ongoing for nearly two years, with both sides trying to strike a deal.
“We believe that the administration is looking for an increase and we’re hoping for a fair contract,” said Carmen Ortiz, a union representative.
“But we’re also concerned that the teacher will not be able to negotiate on their own.”
The district’s superintendent, Carmen Ortiz. Reuters