Providence City Council set to approve new teachers’ contract

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – It took 15 months, but Providence’s teachers are about to have a new union contract.

The City Council is slated to give final passage to a new agreement with the city’s 1,900 teachers Thursday evening, ending a saga that has spanned multiple mayoral administrations and two school years.

Ordinances must be approved twice by the 15-member council. The group unanimously approved the deal for the first time on Nov. 19.

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.

A fiscal note prepared by the Elorza administration shows the contract will cost the city an additional $1.2 million in the current fiscal year and $4.6 million next year.

The deal also calls for no lay-offs this year, but gives the city the ability to make changes in the final two years. The contract eliminates a proposed provision that would have paid teachers more for taking on additional responsibilities, a plan first put forth by former Mayor Angel Taveras last year.

A late change to the agreement prevented teachers from being eligible for a raise equal to the 8% increase the city’s firefighters received for a 14-hour increase to their work week earlier this year. Teachers do remain eligible for larger raises if other municipal unions receive pay increases of greater than 1% by June 30, 2016, a contract provision known as a “parity clause.”

In exchange for giving up the possible 8% increase – a provision that would not have won support from the City Council – any layoffs made during the contract will be based largely on seniority by classification.

The teachers worked the entire 2014-15 school year without a new contract after the union overwhelmingly rejected an offer from 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.

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Dan McGowan ( ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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