Sources: NYC close to contract with teachers union

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NEW YORK (AP) - The city is close to finalizing a contract with the union that represents its 75,000 public school teachers, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

A labor official and a senior administration official said Wednesday that Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio could announce the multiyear agreement as early as Thursday.

De Blasio, who took office in January, postponed a planned announcement on his affordable housing plan to concentrate on the deal, the officials said. It would be his first major labor agreement as mayor.

The labor and administration officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they said they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly.

A city spokesman did not return a message. A spokesman for the teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, declined to comment.

A new accord for the city’s teachers and other employees of the nation’s biggest public school system would signal a turning point in a city government running almost entirely on expired contracts.

Four months into de Blasio’s tenure, his administration has reached a new contract with just one of the city’s 150 labor unions, a small unit representing environmental workers.

The teachers’ contract, which also covers school nurses, counselors and secretaries, expired on Oct. 31, 2009.

The most recent round of negotiations started a few weeks after de Blasio took office, according to the union’s website. Among the key bargaining points, the union said, were salary, retroactive pay and teacher evaluations.

The new agreement, the administration official said, could run up to 9 years.

The official was unsure how the new contract would address retroactive pay. De Blasio and the leaders of the city’s largest labor unions have differed on whether the city could afford such a contract provision.

After the city agreed to give $50,000 in back pay to each of the 200 environmental workers, the city’s other unions, including the massive health care, maintenance workers and teachers unions, asked for retroactive raises that would total up to $7 billion.

Though the unions and some fiscal experts believe the city could afford the raises, which amount to nearly 10 percent of the city’s budget, de Blasio said last week it was “abundantly clear” it could not.

The city’s schools serve 1.1 million pupils and have a $24 billion annual budget.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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