Contract Language

As local unions respond to the challenge of improving schools, close attention should be paid to the delicate balance between the need for dramatic improvement and the rights of school staff affected by change. Center for School Improvement staff often provide technical assistance in suggesting contract language and creating memorandums of understanding to support school improvement. Such strong language enables change and protects the rights of teachers and other educators in the bargaining process.

Below are brief examples of successful AFT local contract language. The language included here is the end product of negotiations, based on give and take by both the union and management. Emphasis given to certain policies and procedures in any one contract is a reflection of the collective bargaining needs at a particular place and point in time. Many factors will affect contract language, including state and local collective bargaining laws and current demographic and economic conditions.

No Child Left Behind

United School Employees of Pasco, Florida

Legislation by the 2001 Florida State and Federal Legislature
During the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 school year, the Board and the Union agree to bargain any changes that are subject to collective bargaining resulting from any legislation, including but not limited to any impact of the ESEA, affecting the wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment of bargaining unit members.

School Improvement and Restructuring

Baltimore Teachers Union, Maryland

  • School improvement teams will choose from the approved systemwide menu of activities that best meet the needs of students and teachers at each school
  • Describes the CEO's district, including teacher incentives and professional development

Duval Teachers United, Florida

  • Joint labor-management committee to oversee requests for contract waivers necessary for school improvement programs
  • Defines union representation on new and innovative programs committee
  • Establishes procedures for critically low-performing schools including transfers and performance pay

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Pennsylvania

  • Establishes labor-management partnership to improve middle schools

Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, Florida

  • If a school adopts an innovative program, teachers who desire to keep their former status in the same school may request to do so or be allowed to transfer
  • Any major innovation program or experiment will be in effect for a reasonable period of time before being expanded to other schools

Providence Teachers Union, Rhode Island

  • Each school has a school improvement team (SIT) made up of union, district, and community representation

Rochester Teachers Association, New York

  • Board and union agree to cooperate in the implementation of innovative programs, to participate in school-based planning at each school, and to establish smaller schools and schools-within-schools
  • Union representation on superintendent's strategic review team
  • School accountability system includes incentives, interventions, and sanctions

United Educators of San Francisco, California

  • District and union working together to reduce the need for reconstitution by implementing a standards-based accountability system
  • Restructured schools will use one of three options for operating shared decision making programs
  • Restructuring will not be imposed but allowed to evolve on a voluntary basis
  • Labor and management serve on the restructuring council to develop goals/procedures for restructuring, promote site-based decision-making, and provide guidance on restructuring plans.

Profiles of districts where contract language led to improvement