The United Federation of Teachers agreed to a new contract with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this month. The UFT’s new contract takes them through the year 2021.

The UFT represents more than 129,000 workers (36 percent of the city’s workforce). Once the new contract is voted on, 60 percent of New York City’s workforce will be under contract. UFT employees will receive compounded wage increases of 2 percent Feb. 14, 2019, 2.5 percent May 14, 2020, and 3 percent May 14, 2021.

While announcing the new deal, de Blasio championed the teacher’s union and its importance to the city’s children.

“As parents, we entrust our children to their teachers from as young as 3 years of age with the knowledge that our teachers will help our children grow and thrive,” said de Blasio. “You see, because without teachers there would be no other professions. There are no doctors, there no lawyers, there are no mayors, there are no school chancellors. Teachers are absolutely critical to our society and to our future, and we are sending a message today.”

The new UFT agreement also includes something known as The Bronx Plan. The citywide plan for the next three school years aims to improve 180 historically underserved schools. The Bronx Plan will allow New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza to designate up to 180 schools to receive a “Hard-to-Staff Differential” to help him retain the best teachers and guidance counselors possible. As part of the plan, UFT members will be eligible for an additional $5,000 to $8,000 in salary per year.

Also, 120 of those schools will participate in the Collaborative School Model, which gives them additional resources for making decision via hard data and collaboration.

“New York City has been recognized nationally for our teacher leader roles,” said de Blasio. “That is giving teachers opportunities for advancing their careers without having to move into administration. So in this contract we are adding two more teacher leader roles. And instead of having a career ladder which takes our teachers out of the teaching profession, we are creating a lattice where they can take leadership roles while still in the teaching profession.”

In a statement, UFT President Michael Mulgrew praised the agreement for potentially empowering teachers by giving them a seat at the table in the decision-making process.

“While the old governance structure would never have let us get to this point, mayoral control was key to the creation of universal pre-K, and has helped us make progress in city schools,” said Mulgrew. “Given the importance of the issues and the long-term initiatives that are part of this contract, the UFT is calling for the continuation of mayoral control as the governance structure for New York City public schools.”

Another part of the new agreement, starting in September 2019, involves the city offering two new teacher leadership roles known as the Teacher Development Facilitator and Teacher Team Leader. Teacher Development Facilitators will take on more responsibility in their support of student teachers in their schools and it is a full-time position. Teacher Team Leaders will work outside the classroom developing Teacher Development Facilitators across the city. Teacher Team Leaders will be eligible for an additional $14,000 in salary per year. Teacher Development Facilitators will be eligible for an extra $3,000 in salary per semester.

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta congratulated the UFT for their recent news.

“Strong unions deliver for their members,” said Pallotta in a statement. “There’s no doubt about the UFT’s power in successfully advocating for higher pay, affordable health insurance and better conditions for teaching and learning. This tentative agreement says clearly, ‘It pays to be a union member.’”