New York City educators deserve real raises. The last two years have seen inflation rates near 7% eat away at workers’ real wages. Food prices have increased by nearly 10% over the last year alone. In New York City the cost of living crisis is particularly acute with rental prices at or near all-time highs. At the same time, working conditions have deteriorated in New York City schools and schools across the country. And in many parts of the country, even in states like Florida, teachers are getting substantial raises well beyond the rate of inflation. Everyone who works in the DOE knows: we work harder, we work longer hours, and we work under worse conditions than we did before the start of the pandemic.
The annual 3% raise “pattern” on the table is simply not acceptable. Even New Yorkers lucky enough to have stabilized rent have seen their rent increase by more than 3%, a number set by this mayor’s appointees. Why is 3% enough for educators, but not enough for landlords? Gas and electric prices are set to increase by more than 3%. Why is 3% enough for educators, but not enough for utility companies? The MTA’s budget includes fare increases of more than 3%. Why should educators settle for 3% when that won’t cover the increase in the cost of getting to school?
The UFT has not agreed to a tentative agreement with the city. But those of us in MORE are troubled at the “pattern” of sub-inflationary raises that the recent DC37 tentative agreement puts in place. We’re committed to organizing and fighting alongside our UFT siblings for a fair contract that delivers real improvements to working conditions along with a fair raise. UFT members currently have no idea what’s being bargained, as UFT leadership has elected to employ a closed bargaining strategy that keeps membership in the dark until the very last moment. Still, we look forward to finding out what’s inside an eventual UFT tentative agreement and will withhold judgment until one is agreed on. But we want to be clear: 3% is not enough, and any agreement where annual raises remain at that level is one that UFT members must reject.