FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 25, 2021
Benjamin Franklin Finalized Collective Bargaining Agreement with United Teachers of New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS, LA － United Teachers of Franklin, a chapter of the United Teachers of New Orleans, signed their newly updated collective bargaining agreement with Ben Franklin High School. This is the third contract between the Union and the school, and was negotiated over the course of the 2020-2021 school year.
“We are delighted to have worked with United Teachers of Franklin to conclude the third collective bargaining agreement at Ben Franklin High School. It was a very collaborative process that engaged members of faculty, administration and the governing board to draw on shared expertise and perspectives. We were particularly mindful of issues of equity as well as fiscal responsibility throughout the negotiations. I am very proud of the resulting agreement which reflects the values of the Franklin community and, ultimately, will benefit the school and the outstanding students whom we all serve,” said Ms. Alea M. Cot, President of Advocates for Academic Excellence in Education, the school’s governing board.
The new contract features pay increases, new sabbatical leave options, a more transparent performance improvement plan, increased bargaining power, safety requirements, and new limits to teacher work-loads. “We think it is important to take advantage of the opportunity to voice concerns, improve working conditions, and ensure staff and students are provided with everything they need to remain the best school for New Orleans's top students. Working with management, we were able to cap student and course loads for teachers, update and strengthen the teacher evaluation process, and create more transparency and dialogue regarding the school working environment. These changes will allow for our teachers to focus on their craft and provide the best classroom experiences possible,” said Mr. Jay Weisman, who serves as the Math Department Chair and President of United Teachers of Franklin.
While the negotiations were interrupted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, both sides agree there was mutual respect and goodwill that was fundamental to the success of their new contract. Dr. Patrick Widhalm, Head of School said “there was a good sense of collaboration in these negotiations. Unknown factors in MFP funding were respected. We were able to design a new teacher evaluation system that recognizes good teaching, along with an improvement process when needed. Coaches will receive the same salary, regardless of being a boys' or a girls' sport. And, structures were reinforced to help ongoing good communication between faculty and administration.”
The agreement will remain in effect until June 30, 2025, with salary negotiations resuming May 1, 2022.