DC37 Makes Sub-Inflation Pattern Official

As expected, DC37 has voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new contract. This is important news for teachers, because the contract is pattern-setting. In other words, the economic details will also apply to the UFT. I hope the contract turns out to be a fair one that improves working conditions for our fellow unionists. But, we already know the economic details aren’t good.

The numbers come down to about 3% in annual wage increases, along with a $3,000 signing bonus. In the end, that will come to about 16.21% over 5.5 years. That might sound like a big number, but it’s less than inflation. It’s also less of a pay increase than what workers are getting on average across the United States – and most U.S. workers aren’t in labor unions. For a unionized comparison, in Los Angeles, where public sector workers have and exercise the right to strike, SEIU 99 just negotiated 30% raises. In New York, where labor leaders argue against even having the right to strike, DC37 just agreed to about half that.

Still, DC37 had access to the numbers and still voted in the contract. We don’t know the ins and outs of their negotiations and what led them to settle for less. We do know that DC37’s membership was strongly encouraged by their union leadership to take the deal. We also know that, other than the pertinent financials, DC37 members did not have much information about their contract. They didn’t receive a full copy with their ballots. All they had was this one pager. And, while I hope the document was accurate, we’ve also seen hidden appendixes get voted in before.

Speaking of hidden appendixes, we also know that healthcare is being negotiated in parallel to our contracts. So, we aren’t just looking at a disappointing pattern. We’re also facing the possibility of being switched off our health plans for something cheaper. And unless we are successful with our petition, we won’t even have a say in that decision. Some DC37 dissidents tried to urge a no vote based on healthcare uncertainty alone. However, DC37’s progressive opposition is smaller than the UFT’s, and their union is much larger and more difficult to organize without the advantage of leadership’s institutional resources.

There are still loose ends to uncover. Soon enough, we’ll learn the specifics of in-service healthcare changes. With time, the full DC37 contract will also become available for analysis, and we’ll have more detailed information about what their deal means for us. Once we know more, we’ll publish more. In the meantime, I hope DC37 maximized the improvements they were seeking.

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