Miami-Dade teachers approve new labor contract

Miami-Dade County teachers on Thursday approved a new labor contract that includes raises and merit pay.

The contract passed with 70 percent voting in favor, according to the United Teachers of Dade.

“I think people see that we’re going in a good direction,” said union president Karla Hernández-Mats. “We’re trying to always do the best that we can for all of our employees in the community, even when we’re underfunded.”

Under the agreement, tenured teachers will receive a raise of more than 3 percent. Those on performance contracts will be eligible for raises of up to 3.57 percent if they earn high marks on job evaluations. Clerical workers and security guards will also get a boost so that no one makes less than $10 an hour.

The Miami-Dade school district also agreed to absorb a 1 percent increase in healthcare costs, saving teachers $35 million.

This is the second labor contract — and raise — to be approved in less than a year.

The previous contract, which passed in a 60-40 vote, proved to be unpopular among some outspoken teachers. Some long-time teachers missed out on big raises, and teachers who were supposed to qualify for merit pay say there was no provision for them to get raises based on their classroom performance — which is a requirement under state law.

A group of teachers has threatened to sue over the last contract, and they have also filed complaints with the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission.

Christina Veiga: 305-376-2029, @cveiga