Miami-Dade teachers approved a new labor contract on Tuesday that includes a raise for teachers who get high marks on their job evaluations.
The contract passed by a margin of two-to-one, with 68 percent voting in favor, according to the United Teachers of Dade.
“We had a good turnout of teachers who voted, people who understand that we fought hard and that we got the best percentages that we could possibly get despite the underfunding from the State Legislature,” said union president Karla Hernández-Mats.
Under the agreement, teachers rated “highly effective” will get a 2.67 percent pay bump and those rated “effective” will get a 2 percent raise. Teachers on a separate pay scale known as the “grandfathered” pay scale will see a 2.6 percent raise across the board. Mid- and late-career teachers will also get annual supplements of $750 and $1,500, respectively. The school district has agreed to absorb an increase in healthcare costs so that teachers won’t have to pay more for coverage.
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The contract also applies to school security guards, paraprofessionals and clerical staff, who will see a 2 percent raise.
Teachers unhappy with the contract organized an unsuccessful “no” campaign on social media and protested outside the School Board’s downtown office on Monday evening. They argued that salaries remain far too low and that the school district has ignored state performance pay laws that require highly rated teachers to be rewarded with more money.
Shawn Beightol, a chemistry teacher at John A. Ferguson Senior High School and one of the organizers of the “no” campaign said the contract leaves veteran teachers “high and dry.”
The school district and the union said they agree that teachers deserve higher pay, but were restricted in their contract negotiations by limited state funding. Miami-Dade teachers have long argued that the high cost of living in South Florida makes it difficult to survive on a teacher’s salary.
“We are united in supporting a contract that dignifies and honors the hard work of teachers,” said Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “From an economic perspective, this was a difficult year but we prioritized teachers above all else.”
UTD reached an agreement with the school district in late October after months of negotiations. Some aspects of the contract will remain in place until 2020, but salary and health insurance are negotiated on an annual basis.