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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson Reach Tentative Contract Agreement for Early Childhood Education Employees

July 9, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, everyone, we’ve got some great news today. And I want to just say to all the folks here who educate our youngest kids, who give them the strong start they deserve in life, this is a really wonderful moment – a moment that so many of you have been calling for and working for, for so many years, and that moment has come. I want to start by saying to all our educators and all the people that take care of our kids, thank you and congratulations.

[Applause]

I like your slogan. Our time is now – that’s good, that’s good. So, this is great news for our children, and for our families, and for the future of early childhood education in New York City. We in this administration have focused from day-one on early child education. It will frame the future of this entire city and every family on it, and we had to get it right, and today is about taking a big, big step forward. It’s been a lot of work. I want to give a lot of credit to folks here who have stayed with this to come to a fair agreement. But what it comes down to is, I believed from the beginning that for New York City education – it had to be our number-one priority and early child education was the foundation. That wasn't true in the past, but now it's become more true every single year in New York City with tremendous support from the City Council, with tremendous support from the labor movement. We have changed the nature of education in New York City. But we knew we have more to do, we knew that we faced a profound challenge, which was ensuring we had enough educators. We had enough personnel to take care of our children, and we saw, as our early child education efforts expanded, an unintended reality that we were having a real challenge, consistent challenge, recruiting and retaining the staff that we needed, the personnel we needed to take care of our kids. And as this challenge grew, it became very clear we had to do something different. It was important to show our appreciation, our respect for the people to do the work, but it was profoundly necessary to ensure there were enough educators for our children. And seeing that retention and recruitment challenge grow, it was one of the reasons we had to act decisively together. Now, as result of this agreement, we will have the quality educators and all the other key staff in place for the long-term to make sure our kids get that start they deserve, and to ensure we have a city where every child gets to start at the same starting line, a city where we really put equality into action. 

So, there is a lot to celebrate today. This is a profound moment. And I want to – I'm going to call upon some of my colleagues here in a moment, but I want to give some credit where credit is due to folks on my team who worked really, really hard to get us to this day and have been working on this issue, even going back to the beginning of the administration when we first took action to address parity issues. I want to thank, of course, our First Deputy Mayor, Dean Fuleihan; our Labor Commissioner, Renee Campion; our Budget Director, Melanie Hartzog; and our Deputy Chancellor for early education, Josh Wallack – all of them have been deeply, deeply involved. Will you join me in giving all of them a round of applause?

[Applause]

And I want to emphasize to everyone that all the people I just named felt this was an important mission and a labor of love, because they wanted to get to the day where we resolve these issues. And I want to just say, it says a lot about them as public servants and human beings – they thought this was important to do as a matter of fairness and for the future of our children, and that energy helped us get to this day. 

Now, let's be really clear about what it takes to actually educate our kids right from the beginning. We, all together, had to devote ourselves to full-day pre-K for every single child, and then we went and took the next big step – 3-K for every child – and everyone should realize how quickly that is moving. We're going to have 20,000 kids in 3-K in September. The following September – will be in 14 school districts, 24,000 kids. This is moving and growing, and the day is coming soon where it will a universal right in New York City. That means we need a lot of great educators. We need a lot of great team members in all the places that educate our kids to keep up with that growing demand, but a demand we should have satisfied a long time ago, an issue we should have addressed a long time ago, getting it right when kids can learn best between birth and five years old. Everyone in this room understands it. Now, we're doing something to deepen our commitment, and that was not true in the past in this city. This city invested in a lot of other things in education and some important things, but missed what was the most important time when kids could learn the most and learn the best, the very beginning of their lives. So, we spend a lot of money, but we missed the most important part of the equation, and now we're getting it right, finally. Not only did we devote ourselves as a city to full-day pre-K for every child for free, and eventually full-day 3-K for every child for free, even in the beginning of this administration, we focused on our educators and all they bring to the table and all they need. We focused on professional development, we focused on advancement opportunities. And we knew from the beginning that our early child educators needed to experience real progress on the pathway to parity. And one of the things we did in the very beginning was to give pre-K teachers a raise. And now, we're taking the next big step for all the early education teachers represented by 1707 – District Council 1707. And I'm going to turn to Henry Garrido in a moment, but I want to say to Henry, I want to say to Kim Medina – an extraordinary effort, extraordinarily good and productive negotiations brought us to this day. And that's why I can now formally announce on behalf of the City of New York an agreement between District Council 1707 and the Day Care Council that will cover all 1707 employees, including non-certified teachers and support staff. And I want to commend everyone –

[Applause]

I want to commend everyone. And something Henry said to me just a few minutes ago – I think it's a line he made up himself – he said, it takes a village to educate our children.

[Laughter]

So, you know, all the folks who work in our early childhood centers, all the folks who make such a difference, everyone will benefit, and everyone deserves to benefit in this agreement. And I want to say thank you, again, to all of you.

[Applause]

Now, as with every labor agreement, this is pending ratification. The workers ultimately have to vote. So, we're telling you what's been agreed to, but reminding everyone that the final step in the process is a ratification vote by the workers. But – so important to say that this agreement is fair to the people who do the work, fair to our families and our children, also fair to our taxpayers. This is an agreement that works in terms of the City's budgetary reality, our fiscal needs. It's a balanced agreement and that's something we're very, very proud of. The members of 1707 will also see something that they've talked about for a long time as being a crucial need – they will see more affordable health care costs.

[Applause]

The City will continue to work with Health and Hospitals and Metro Plus and the union to look for ways to reduce premiums and reduce copays and help members get more affordable health care. And there's been an ongoing issue, as I mentioned before, of how do we attract and how do we retain quality teachers in this crucial, crucial sector. We know that with all certified early childhood teachers – and that means pre-K and 3-K educators – with all of them getting pay raises for the next three years, we will have the ability to recruit and retain the very best. That's what we celebrate on behalf of our children. 

What does that mean? By 2021, teachers with bachelor's degrees will earn $17,000 more per year and teachers with a master's degree will earn $20,000 more per year by 2021. There’ll be pay parity with Department Education Schools for starting salaries, and that means that community-based centers will be able to attract and retain that talent that they need. We know that the ability of teachers to devote themselves to this work and know it is sustainable for themselves and their families is what's going to help all families. 

Now, again, ratification process ahead, but once this agreement is ratified, it will be the model, going forward, for certified early child education teachers across the board and, again – will be a difference-maker in all of our efforts to make sure the talent is there on a consistent basis. 

I'll finish by saying something very personal. I got inspired to focus on early child education because the experiences that my children had. And I saw what it meant, and I can't imagine the difference that it would have made had they not had that available to them. My children blossomed and grew because they had wonderful teachers early on in their life who really helped them reach their potential. Every single child deserves that. Every single child deserves it, and that means we have to have those quality teachers and we have to have enough of them for every child. That's what we're securing today. We want to be the fairest big city in America, that means making sure that every child is treated equally, and that can't happen unless the very best are there to serve them. And I believe you are among the very best. 

[Applause]

So, just very quickly in Spanish – 

With that, I'm going to turn to Speaker Corey Johnson. Thank you to the Spanish speakers. I got a public education, you see it worked for me – it worked for me. 

[Laughter]

As I turned to the Speaker, first I want to say a great thank you to the members of the Council. And when we had the handshake agreement just weeks ago and we all said that we believed in each other, we trusted each other, we knew we were moving forward together. I want to welcome and thank Council Member Mark Treyger; Council Member Carlina Rivera; Council Member Helen Rosenthal – thank you all for all you do.

[Applause]

The three members we’ve worked very closely with on a host of issues, and we have all learned over these years that we have a common bond and we can work things through together. So when the Speaker and I stood there, we said, we know where we want to go and we're going to get there, and we got there pretty damn fast. So – but I also want to say, the Speaker in the budget negotiations – and he was – resolute is a good word to use – this issue, I believe Speaker Corey Johnson raised it in the budget negotiations approximately 247 times. 

[Laughter]

It was a constant to say the least. And his belief that this is what we had to do to protect the future of our kids and also to be fair to working people. He said this is what matters to him. This is what matters to the Council – we’ve got to get it done. And we said, we will work together to figure out that framework and get there quick. That's what we celebrate today. But I want to say, the Speaker set that priority and I honored that priority and I respected that priority greatly. And it just shows what can happen when people actually work together for a common goal. 

So Speaker Cory Johnson, congratulations. 

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson: Good afternoon. I want to thank you, Mr. Mayor, for getting this done quickly. We did the handshake on the budget less than three weeks ago and we said at that handshake that this was going to be done in an expeditious manner and in a thoughtful and fair manner, and that's what we're announcing today. This is a historic day for early childhood education in the City of New York. And I really – the Mayor thanked these folks already, but I really want to thank the advocates who passionately fought decades for certified teachers and community based organizations to achieve pay parity, including the Day Care Council of New York, the Citizens Committee for Children, and FPWA, headed by my friend, and our friend, Jennifer Jones Austin, who was really key in this conversation and who fought tirelessly and partnered with us these last few months. The Mayor gave him his do, but I just want to say it publicly that Henry Garrido has been such a joy, a real joy to work with throughout this entire process – really thoughtful and level-headed and fair and calm, partnering with Kim Medina, who has been championing this for such a long time. And I am really, really, really grateful –

[Applause]

I'm really grateful for Kim Medina's leadership, and really grateful for Kim and Henry's partnership in getting us to this really important moment today. I want to thank the Mayor for his leadership on this issue. He, I think, has spoken about it, but it deserves to be reiterated – I think a centerpiece of this administration in the last almost six years of his mayoralty has been ensuring that parents don't have to make really painful and unfair decisions as it relates to childcare and education for their children. And it was the theme and narrative of his campaign in 2013, and he won on that, and then he, in his first six months, got Universal Pre-K, but that we've continued to deepen that commitment over the years with 3-K and with this agreement today. So, I want to thank the Mayor for his leadership and his commitment and his partnership on this issue. 

The Council Members – Council Member Mark Treyger does not leave me alone about anything education-related, every single day –

[Applause]

Mayor: Don’t ever change.

Speaker Johnson: But this was – this was really a partnership between Chair Treyger, as well as the entire Women's Caucus. We have one of the co-chairs, Carlina Rivera, who is here; the other co-chair, Margaret Chin, was instrumental; and the Chair of our Committee on Women who has been a huge leader on this issue, talking about it every single budget negotiating meeting that we had – I want to thank Helen Rosenthal – Chair Helen Rosenthal for her leadership as well. And to the hardworking teachers and day care directors who have long awaited this day – congratulations.

[Applause]
I want to thank you for caring for New York City's children and for educating the next generation of leaders who hopefully will be sitting behind this dais someday soon. We cannot have a system where certified teachers and community-based organizations start out earning thousands of dollars less than those doing the same job in public schools. It was not right, and today is setting the path to ensure that it doesn't happen again. Today, we are finally closing that gap that has existed for far too long. And the contract extension, as the Mayor talked about, is going to give pay parity to certify teachers with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. We're going to give support staff a signing bonus, hopefully upon ratification. And then, there'll be a pattern conforming increase that happens in 2021. And we're going to restructure health care to lower copays for folks across the entire industry, which is important and exciting as well. And we're looking at the pension system, in a responsible and efficient manner. But most importantly, we are losing – we are creating a system that doesn't lose sight of pay parity and ensuring that it happens so that all New York City teachers deserve the same pay, the same benefits, and the same respect. We can't afford to let this problem resurface again, because the quality of our children's education is that stake, and, too often, community-based organizations lose effective teachers due to lack of pay parity – as the Mayor talked about, the retention issues and the recruitment issues that we know is persisting. And so now they don't need to switch systems, they can stay in the system that they want to be in. They can bring stability to our student’s classrooms. We know that without a solid early childhood education, these children won't thrive in schools. We know the brain development that happens in those early years and how important it is. So, by closing this pay gap for the starting salary, we are creating a more fair and more equitable a city. 

And I just want to mention personally, you know, for me, I still talk to my mom every single day. And my mom was my lunch lady in school when I was growing up, but she also had – she had three jobs. My mom was my lunch lady, she was a part time dental hygienist, and she cleaned houses on the weekend as well. And my mom always struggled with finding childcare for my sister and myself. And when I was old enough, I got to watch my sister to help my mom. And so, this work for so many of us – not just me, but for so many people in this entire room – it's an issue that we felt in our lives either as parents or as children or as part of a family structure. And so we know sometimes when we are talking about things in government, it can feel academic and it can feel like numbers on a piece of paper. But we know that this is going to have an immediate real impact on the lives of the people who teach in these schools, but not just the folks who teach in the schools who are so important, but for families all across New York City that have to make these difficult decisions every single day. 

So, I am really, really grateful that less than three weeks after we stood in that rotunda and announced that we had a budget deal, and, understandably, folks in this room are a little anxious saying, how quickly is it going to happen? Is it real? We've waited far too long. Less than three weeks later, we've got a deal. So, congratulations, everyone – thank you very much.

And, Mr. Mayor, I just want to thank my staff. I want to thank Jason Goldman who was key – my Chief of Staff. I want to thank Latanya McKinney, and I really want to thank your team as well. Emma Wolfe has been instrumental in this effort, wherever she is, as well as Dean Fuleihan, Melanie Hartzog, Renee Campion, and the rest of your team – they've really been wonderful to work with. So, I want to thank you for the real partnership.

Mayor: Thank you.

[Applause]

[…]

Mayor: Okay, to our colleagues in the media we will now take questions on this agreement. Questions from the media today, Gloria?

Question: Mr. Mayor, what is the total cost of the agreement – over the next three years, right – what is the total cost –

Mayor: Budget Director Melanie Hartzog will take your question.

Director Melanie Hartzog, Office of Management and Budget: So the total cost for the agreement is $15 million, roughly, at full implementation for school year ’23. The net cost to the budget is actually $5 million, the difference comes from the labor reserve, it’s already in the budget.

Question: The net cost in this year’s budget, or by implementation?

Director Hartzog: I’m saying in the labor reserve we already had funding, so the net cost, meaning what we would add at the November plan is $5 million in Fiscal Year ’23, at full implementation.

Question: I just wondered if for – maybe for one of the union leaders, if you could tell us what the average Pre-K instructor – I’m just trying to compare what people have been making now and what their salaries look like and what this deal will [inaudible]?

Executive Director Henry Garrido, District Council 37: Well, as it was said, at entry-level a teacher with a master’s degree makes $20,000 less under the contract under UFT counterpart. With a B.A., it’s about $17,000. What this agreement does is achieves that gap with the projected increases that the United Federation of Teachers will get, over a three-step period, right? Beginning in September of this year, following year, and the year there after, so that by the time the conclusion of the three years, we would be in full parity with the UFT. Also, we would align all the contracts so that for future references when we try to [inaudible] we don’t just create an inequity that we just keep catching out. So part of the clever part of this deal is that, not only did we achieve the difference between the $47,858 and the $68,652 for M.A. certified, and the $43,000 versus the $61,000 for a teacher with a B.A. certified, but we also have aligned all the contracts for all the teachers, whether you work in a school or you work in a non-profit, to be at the same level, and that allows to prospectively also keep fighting for the same equity that we just achieved today.

Question: [Inaudible]

Director Hartzog: Yes, ma’am.

Question: You were saying – more than just Pre-K instructors, who else is represented in this labor deal, beyond people who aren’t in the classroom?

Director Hartzog: So it’s also all of the support staff. So that’s the cooks, the assistant cooks, the janitorial staff, the bookkeepers, teacher’s aides. So it’s everyone who services, because they don’t just cook, they also cook to give healthy meals, and they work with the children too. A cook can go into any classroom and the children know them by name. How are you Ms. “So and So”? How are you Mr. “So and So”? They ask how their mom and dad are. Sometimes they’re there observing lunch. They know every child’s allergy, because they need to know that. They need to know how to prepare their meals. The janitors need to know what’s safe and not safe to use in liquids. So of course, everyone should be recognized for the work that they do and respected. And that’s what we went into with this, it was not just the teachers, it was everybody that was included in the line.

Mayor: Yeah.

Question: Hi, Christina Vega with Chalkbeat. Two questions – what’s happening with Local 95 members? And are non-union members covered in this agreement? Actually, a third – how many teachers versus support staff are there [inaudible]?

Mayor: Renee, you want to start?

Commissioner Renee Campion, NYC Office of Labor Relations: Hi. So let’s start with the numbers. So in Local 205, the number of certified teachers is about 315, the uncertified teachers are about 900, and there’s about 3,000 support staff. So that is a total of 4,200 for this agreement that we’re talking about today.

On your question about Local 95, as the Mayor spoke, this contract has to be ratified, and once it’s ratified, we will then have – go on to conversations regarding Local 95, which is the Head Start group, and then we will have – and then there will be further conversations. This will be a model, or a framework for moving forward into the Local 95, and then also for the non-represented workers.

Question: [Inaudible]?

Commissioner Campion: This is a – we’re using this as a model for the certified teachers—

Question: Do you know how many teachers are non-union [inaudible]?

Mayor: Okay, we’re going to take that one and we’re going to need to get other people in so do you have that number or do you need to get that?

Garrido: It’s about a two-to-one ratio.

Mayor: Two-to-one, in favor of?

Garrido: It’s about a two-to-one ratio, non-represented teachers. And by the way, this is a good opportunity to say, join a union.

[Laughter]

Commissioner Campion: That’s right.

Garrido: You what they say about that point between an unmovable object and a unstoppable force relies a union, this is a good opportunity to say to those who are non-union, come join us.

Mayor: Come join.

Garrido: Come join us.

[Applause]

Mayor: Very nicely done. So just to all of the folks in the media we’ll take some more questions, but there will be a technical briefing after. So, if it’s just pure specific technicalities agreement, folks who know the details will go over it with you. Go ahead.

Question: Just two are non-unionized to unionized one?

Mayor: Ratio two to one.

Garrido: Yes, two to one [inaudible] non-union for the teachers and one.

Mayor: Okay, yes.

Question: Why isn’t Chancellor Carranza here for this event?

Mayor: I am not familiar with Chancellor Carranza’s schedule today. But the folks who were directly involved in negotiation are here today. Yeah. Okay, go ahead Jeff.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you talked a lot about UPK out on the campaign trail. Why did this take so long, this has been issue for [inaudible] for these indicators? Why has it taken until this point to reach this agreement?

Mayor: A couple of things I’d say. First of all, remember even though I don’t think it got a lot of coverage at the time, it was a perfectly public thing that at beginning of the administration we took the first step toward parity, and that had not been done before. Folks had been stuck in place for a long, long time and Renee can go over the details of what was done initially. But this was – this is not our first time at the rodeo. We actually made a major step for parity early in the administration. But to resolve a pathway it was very complex. And as with everything else, there were a lot of other competing needs we were trying to address not only in early childhood education but so many other areas. We had to figure out something that would work, and we had to believe it would be sustainable. And this one, you know, remembering that folks involved who do such important work they’re not direct city employees. So, there’s more actors in this than in our other types of labor negotiations. We kept working at it, everyone worked in good faith, but findings are cracking the code, and finding the formula that would work and would be sustainable – it took quite a while, but we finally go there.

Please.

Garrido: Let me just say, because this stuff can get very complicated. One, the inequity did not just exist in salary and I want to emphasize that. Health insurance is a very big deal, and our members were concerned about the changes that we’re done for health insurance. This deal insures that those premiums go significantly down using the experience that we have with city workers to drive down costs without increasing the cost for the City of New York and the taxpayers. At the same time the pension issue is a big issue too, right. Because you don’t want to create an inequity there as well, right. The UFT teachers get a very good pension for the teacher’s retirement system. So we need to make sure the inequities there were also fixed. So just – you know having come to the deal a little later than most in this table can tell you that the complexity of the work of getting that. All while achieving something that was pattern conforming was not an easy thing to do. Because we also have to respect the 300,000 plus city workers who all sacrifice and got a contract just for the sake of parity or something that was not done for 20 years, you don’t want to violate their rights. So this deal achieves both. It does equity; it takes care of the health insurance, it insures the viability of the pension, but it doesn’t violate the rights of all the city workers who also had to do the same thing when they did their collective bargaining agreement.

Question: And does the cost that Melanie gave, does that include the pension, health care as well? And is there a larger projected cost once all of the even the non-represented employees are [inaudible]?

Director Hartzog: So, the cost that I gave out is just for the deal that we discussed. The cost for the actual for the actual pension is $15 million of 15 years, $2.5 million in fiscal year ’20 and then $1.5 million and then going to $1 million.

Mayor: Okay, last call; again there will be a technical briefing after. Let me go back there.

Question: Is there anything in this contract [inaudible] addressed the pay gap for teachers who’ve been in the system say 10 or 15 years? Because I know it gets larger the longer you’ve been working in the [inaudible].

Mayor: Renee you want or Henry? Who wants to?

Commissioner Campion: Hi, so there are – there are the existing longevity differentials that are in the Local 205 contract. Those continue to exist to the extent that people receive those. But the increases that we’ve been able to put into place for 10-121, those increases everyone will receive.

Mayor: Okay, Gloria.

Question: Mr. Mayor, are charters that provide pre-K included in this?

Mayor: Everyone represented by 1707 to begin with [inaudible] local –

Garrido: Do you mean charter schools?

Mayor: Right.

Garrido: No.

Mayor: You don’t have members in those charter schools?

Garrido: No, there are no members.

Mayor: So you just don’t have them there. Okay, last call media questions on this agreement? Going once, twice, stick around for anyone who needs a technical briefing.

Congratulations, everybody.

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