I don't understand this.
A brief history of recent collective bargaining between the United Federation of Teachers and the New York City Department of Education:
Just before I started teaching in the NYC schools in 2002, a contract agreement was reached. This coincided roughly with a general upheaval in the school system, as Mayor Bloomberg took over the Board of Education and turned it into the Department of Education. The previous contract had expired at some point in the past, and the new contract began retroactively at the time that the old contract expired, and lasted until May 2003.
May 2003 rolled around, and no new contract was signed. For 2 1/2 years. Not that this really mattered, since the old contract was fully enforced: the teachers kept showing up to school, and the city kept paying us. In October 2005, the UFT and the city reached a contract agreement. This was transparently timed to happen right before the mayoral election. As a result, the UFT made no endorsement, instead of endorsing Ferrer against Bloomberg. The current contract goes from June 2003 (retroactively, of course) to October 2007. We all got retroactive pay raises, as well as future ones (which are now in the past), and in exchange, the school day and school year were slightly lengthened, which I think is just fine.
In conclusion, recent history shows that the nominal dates of contracts are mere formalities, and contract agreements tend to be retroactive and timed for political expediency. I predicted that the next contract would be signed several years after the current one expires.
Then we got some strange news last week. The UFT and the city have reached a tentative contract agreement, for a new contract going from October 2007 to October 2009. You read that correctly -- they're agreeing to a contract before the contract even begins! This contract includes a one-time $750 bonus in January 2007, a 2% raise in October 2007, and a 5% raise in May 2008. There are no changes to the length of the school day or school year, and no significant changes in any other contractual provisions.
So obviously I'll vote to ratify this contract -- it's more money in exchange for no extra work. But my question is WHY? What motivated Bloomberg and Klein to agree to this now? Bloomberg isn't up for election (as in 2005) and doesn't need to buy support for his reorganization of the schools (as in 2002). The recent national and state elections have no effect on the city, which holds elections in odd years. They still have another year before the current contract "expires". The new contract will expire just before the next mayoral election, which is sure to elect someone other than Bloomberg, who is term-limited. (Thompson? Weiner? Who knows.) So what gives? I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but does anyone have insights on what's really behind this?