Providence teachers won’t get massive raises in new contract

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence teachers will not be eligible for a pay raise equal to the 8% increase the city’s firefighters have received for a 14-hour increase to their average work week, under a deal announced Tuesday by the Elorza administration.

The new agreement amends a previously-negotiated contract that has languished for several months after the City Council raised concerns about a provision in the pact that would have guaranteed larger raises for teachers if other municipal unions receive pay increases of greater than 1% by June 30, 2016.

The amended deal, which still needs to be approved by the entire Providence Teachers Union and the City Council, includes language that would block teachers from receiving a raise equal to the firefighters, which are currently locked in a legal battle over the city’s decision to move from four platoons to three as part of a cost-savings effort.

In exchange, the city has agreed to add language to the contract that bases layoffs largely on seniority by classification, a policy that has informally enforced for several years. Mayor Jorge Elorza said Tuesday the city isn’t planning to make any layoffs.

“Our teachers are invaluable to this city and its communities,” Elorza said in a statement. “They are on the front lines doing the essential work of educating our children and preparing them to succeed. I thank the Providence Teachers Union and their leadership. Today, we are even closer to ensuring that our teachers have the resources and the stability that will move the Providence Public Schools forward.”

The rest of the contract mirrors the one Elorza and the Providence Teachers Union agreed to in May.

Under the terms of the deal, teachers will get a 1% increase for the current school year, a 1.75% increase at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year and a 1.5% on the final day of the 2016-17 school year.

Teachers will still be eligible for larger raises if the city’s other municipal unions negotiate higher pay increases over the next three years, according to the contract. Local 1033, which represents municipal employees, and Local 1339, which represents school clerical workers, are both currently negotiating new deals with the city.

The teachers worked the entire 2014-15 school year without a new contract after the union overwhelmingly rejected an offer from former Mayor Angel Taveras. The teachers’ primary concern with that proposal was a provision that would have paid teachers more for taking on additional responsibilities, but lacked clarity over how the policy would work.

“It has been a long three months, and I am grateful for the opportunity to bring this negotiated amendment to my membership for a vote,” Maribeth Reynolds-Calabro, the union president, said in a statement. “Having defined language regarding the manner in which layoffs are conducted and a ratified contact is important to all teachers so that we may dedicate our time and energy as professional educators towards making Providence students recipients of the world-class education they deserve.”

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