UFT-represented staff at Harlem charter ratify contract

Teaching assistants Glenisha Gunnings (left) and Crystal Chandler, the co-chapter leaders at Opportunity Charter School, prepare to cast their votes.

Teaching assistants Glenisha Gunnings (left) and Crystal Chandler, the co-chapter leaders at Opportunity Charter School, prepare to cast their votes.

UFT members at Opportunity Charter School in Central Harlem have ratified a four-year contract that significantly lowers employee health plan costs, increases wages and introduces a salary schedule that pays educators based on education and years of experience.

The new collective-bargaining agreement, the secondary school’s second, runs from Sept. 1, 2014, through Aug. 31, 2018. It covers the 75 teachers, teaching assistants, behavior specialists, learning specialists, consultant teachers, coaches, assistant deans, guidance counselors and social workers at the charter school, which enrolls many students who have learning disabilities or are struggling academically.

Co-Chapter Leader Crystal Chandler, a teaching assistant at the school, praised the main features of the new contract. She said the increased employer contributions to health insurance will make health plans that cover spouses and children more affordable for staff. She also noted that the new uniform salary schedule and higher wages would result in a more stable workforce at the school.

“What we gained in this contract will definitely help our members at the school,” said Chandler. “We are excited to start the school year on a positive note and to focus on educating our awesome students.”