The Bloomberg administration and the New York City teachers' union reached a tentative contract yesterday that calls for raises of 14.25 percent over 52 months, requires teachers to work longer days, eliminates some cherished seniority rights in staffing decisions and establishes a new master teacher position with higher pay.
The deal provides a substantial increase in instructional time for the city's nearly 1.1 million public school children, including two extra days of class at the start of the school year and 50 minutes a week of tutoring, test preparation or other instruction for struggling students in groups of 10 or fewer.
The administration said the pact would cost $350 million more than had been budgeted this fiscal year.
The agreement, which comes 28 months after the previous contract expired, ends a bitter and rancorous dispute with the teachers' union that in recent days has dogged Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg both on the campaign trail, as he seeks re-election, and in everyday public appearances.
Just yesterday morning, on his way to City Hall, the mayor said he had met a teacher on the subway who demanded to know when she would get a new contract. And two weeks ago, the union threatened to strike or to endorse the mayor's Democratic rival, Fernando Ferrer, if teachers did not get a deal by early October.
Officials said that the union, the United Federation of Teachers, was unlikely to hold a ratification vote until after Election Day, a virtual guarantee that the union leadership will remain neutral in the mayoral race as it works to get the contract approved. The timing is a huge political boon for Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican, and a setback for Mr. Ferrer.
Although the union president, Randi Weingarten, repeatedly declined to answer questions about the political implications of the deal - including how it might affect an endorsement - Mr. Bloomberg was positively beaming as he and Ms. Weingarten announced the agreement at City Hall, surrounded by city labor and education officials.
"It is a winner for both sides," Mr. Bloomberg declared.
The pact calls for a pay increase of 14.25 percent, which, when compounded, amounts to 15 percent. The maximum salary rises to $93,416, from $81,212. Salaries grow more modestly, however, for new teachers - by about 9 percent - with starting pay rising to $42,512, from $39,000.
Because much of the deal is retroactive, teachers stand to get sizable checks, perhaps by Christmas. Those at the highest end of the salary scale would get $5,771, before taxes, while a teacher who started in September 2002 would get $2,819.
The agreement, which was completed shortly before 6 a.m. by negotiators who had worked through the night, prompted relief among teachers and parents that the stressful and distracting contract feud was finally over, and scorn from Mr. Ferrer, who accused the mayor of transparent politicking.
"Well, thank goodness for election years," Mr. Ferrer said at a campaign stop in Harlem. "You know, a mere five weeks before the election we have a contract with the teachers. They had to wait almost three years. Now their bills didn't wait for three years. But certainly, you know, there's nothing like a little election to give somebody a little religion."
The unusually lengthy term of the contract - four years and four and a half months, expiring Oct. 12, 2007 - allows Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Weingarten to present the city's 83,000 teachers with a deal that, on the surface at least, seems to be a more generous package than those received by other municipal unions in recent months. The deal also covers about 30,000 other school employees.
The mayor and Ms. Weingarten repeatedly boasted that, combined with the contract they negotiated in 2002, together they had increased the wages of city teachers by more than 33 percent, sharply closing a gap with pay in nearby suburbs.
In fact, the finances are quite complicated and almost impossible to compare with recent deals for police and correction officers without complex calculations.
The Citizens Budget Commission, a nonprofit group, said it was unclear how the city would pay for the deal, especially a 3.25 percent raise in the fourth year that is not accompanied by any productivity savings.
The deal calls for teachers to work an additional 50 minutes a week, and adds two days to the school year. A third day, for teacher training, would be added in Brooklyn and Queens by eliminating the Brooklyn-Queens Day holiday in June. Teachers would be required to report to work on the Thursday before Labor Day, and students on the next Tuesday, two days earlier than usual.
The 50 minutes a week, or 10 minutes a day, would be combined with 20 additional minutes a day that the teachers had agreed to work as part of their last contract deal.
The administration has struggled to make use of that time, so much so that the school schedule was changed four times in the last four years. And in a sign that such complications would probably continue, the new deal calls for the time to be divided into 371/2 minutes a day Monday through Thursday for small-group work after the regular dismissal bell.
Officials acknowledged that 30 seconds pass rather quickly in a classroom, but Mr. Bloomberg insisted that the 371/2 minutes would allow for more substantive instruction and that it approached the 40-minute length of regular class periods.
The pact, based largely on a proposal by arbitrators last month, also includes some substantial changes to work rules that were sought by Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. The teachers agreed to give up seniority rights in school assignments so that veteran teachers seeking a position would no longer be able to bump junior colleagues.
Mr. Klein has repeatedly complained about these so-called bumping rights as one of the most onerous aspects of the contract, saying the ousting of younger teachers by veterans frequently upends principals' efforts to build a cohesive staff.
Mr. Bloomberg said: "We are for the first time giving principals ultimate authority over teacher hiring in their schools. Under this contract, principals will no longer have teachers imposed on them who they do not want."
However, the deal leaves in place many other seniority rights that influence staffing decisions, including preferences in grade, class and subject assignments.
The deal also takes away the ability of teachers to file a grievance seeking to remove any critical letter placed in their personnel file by a supervisor. Instead, teachers can attach a response. The agreement also sets a penalty of mandatory dismissal for any teacher who engages in sexual misconduct with a student.
While both sides sought to portray the deal as a victory for schoolchildren, it seemed that it largely amounted to a draw between the union and the administration. The raises were not as steep as the union had hoped, and the concessions on work rules not as great as the administration had sought.
"The school system clearly got some of the things that they wanted in terms of more principal discretion," Ms. Weingarten said. "But the teachers maintained their core values and their core rights, and there's a lot of fairness in here in addition to the substantial wage increases."
In a late talks over the weekend, Ms. Weingarten, who has heard bitter complaints from the rank and file about being micromanaged by the Bloomberg administration, won language in the contract stating that teachers cannot be disciplined over the format of bulletin boards, the arrangement of classroom furniture or the exact duration of lessons - all sore points among educators.
The change with perhaps the greatest long-term significance was the creation of a new "lead" teacher position, in which veteran educators designated as masters of their craft will be paid $10,000 more a year to serve as mentors to colleagues.
Mr. Klein and Mr. Bloomberg applauded the position as creating a much needed career step.
A pilot project begun last year in Community School District 9 in the Bronx has been well received by principals, teachers and parents alike. Two lead teachers share a regular class; while one teaches that class, the other works elsewhere in the building with a junior teacher.
But the agreement reached yesterday did not specifically set aside any money for the program, making it unclear exactly how many lead teachers would be hired, and in how many schools or when. The $10,000 in extra pay counts toward teachers' pensions, adding to the cost of the program over time.
The proposed pact also substantially revises a portion of the teachers' contract called Circular 6-R, which was negotiated by the Giuliani administration. It required teachers to perform professional duties like tutoring or recordkeeping, but the administration later found the requirement unhelpful.
Mr. Bloomberg previously sought to eliminate Circular 6-R. The current deal does not eliminate it, but limits the number of activity options and gives principals much greater control and oversight. Under the new deal, teachers could be assigned to activities like home room or schoolyard duty.