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Buffalo Teachers Ratify Contract, Ending a 12 Year Stalemate

Ending a 12-year deadlock between the district and union, public school teachers in Buffalo, N.Y. have inked their first new contract since the last one expired in 2004.

The deal includes wins for both sides.

The district got educators to agree to adding 25 minutes to the school day and two days to the school year, reports The Buffalo News. They also got teachers to agree to cuts to their healthcare benefits—cosmetic surgery will no longer be covered and, for the first time, educators will contribute toward their insurance costs. In the first year, individual coverage will cost teachers $500 a year while family plans will set educators back $1,100 annually. (The district ceded its original proposal to base teachers' contributions on a fixed percentage of health care costs, according to the Buffalo News.)

On the other side, the teachers' union got the district to pony up slightly more than they had originally proposed for pay raises. Teachers will see a 10 percent pay bump this year and 2 percent increases for the next two years after that. The district proposed a 10 percent increase this year followed by a 3 percent bump in 2017-18 school year. Additionally, educators will receive back pay in the form of one-off bonuses ranging from $2,000 to $9,000, depending on years with the district.

In another big win for the union, the district dropped demands that would have given it full control over teacher transfer and assignment procedures. Instead the new contract maintains rules that base such decisions on teachers' seniority. 

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