Three-year New Haven Federation of Teachers contract ratified by Board of Alders
After close to a year of negotiating, NHFT has won a 15 percent pay raise over the next three years .
Daniel Zhao, Senior Photographer
Teachers in New Haven will soon see a five percent pay bump, stronger workplace protections and monthly meetings with the city’s Human Resources Department after the Board of Alders voted to ratify the New Haven Federation of Teachers’ contract.
The three-year contract, negotiated by the New Haven’s Board of Education and the New Haven Federation of Teachers, was ratified at Tuesday’s Board of Alders meeting after the Finance Committee requested that the BOA discharge the contract to a full vote.
The updated contract includes a 5 percent pay raise for teachers, monthly meetings with the Department of Human Resources, expansion and clarification of parental leave policies for non-birthing parents, a $42 per hour pay for teachers covering classes during preparatory periods and the creation of a committee dedicated to combating the current shortage of roughly 80 teachers in New Haven Public Schools.
“We were able to land on a contract that I think both sides really thought was fair and addressed both the teacher retention issues and the working conditions,” Leslie Blatteau, president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, told the News.
Under the new contract, teachers will receive a five percent increase in their salaries every year for three years. The starting salary for New Haven teachers is $45,457, compared to starting teaching salaries of $45,591 in Bridgeport, $47,464 in Hartford and $48,209 in Meriden. The new contract will raise the starting salary to $51,421 by the 2025-2026 school year, while a teacher with 10 years’ experience and a master’s degree will by then earn $76,580. Teachers earning the “top” salary under the new contract will make $97,356 by 2025-2026.
On Tuesday, finance committee chair Adam Marchand told his colleagues that the ratification of the contract was in the “best interest” of the city since it would raise wages for teachers within the district.
At last week’s Board of Alders Finance Committee meeting where the contract was discussed, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Keisha Hannans represented the Board of Education in support of the contract, saying that it will better equip the district to serve its students. She told Alders that the district and administration hope the agreement “will help close the educational opportunities gap.”
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker has also spoken in favor of the new contract, saying that these improvements will be an important step forward to increase teacher retention in the district.
Ward 14 Alder Sarah Miller told the News that while everyone involved in the ratification process wanted to include more benefits in the contract, the contract as it stands is “an important first step forward.”
“We have to start somewhere and this contract will actually allow for us to be competitive for teacher’s wages in the district compared to the rest of the state,” Miller said.
Negotiations for the contract began in March of 2022 after Blatteau was elected in 2021 on a platform of dramatically updating the teachers’ contract to alleviate the staffing and educational crises that had begun to emerge in the district.
After taking office, Blatteau identified contract negotiations as one of her “foremost” priorities and worked throughout much of 2022 to put together a negotiations committee.
Members of the teachers’ union were surveyed about contract priorities in the spring of last year. The negotiations team, largely composed of teachers, worked through the summer to prepare for August meetings with the Board of Education.
The Board of Education left negotiations at one point due to disagreements, but they returned to the table for two additional meetings, during which they reached an agreement with the union. Going forward, the union plans to continue fighting for lessened workloads for special education teachers and the hiring of librarians for every school in the city.
The new contract will be in effect for the next three years.