Morris Jeff Community School and United Teachers of New Orleans Reach Landmark Contract Agreement
NEW ORLEANS, LA – On Tuesday evening teachers and support staff from Morris Jeff Community School and the school’s Board of Directors met separately to unanimously ratify their newly negotiated collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The agreement is the result of months of cooperative and constructive negotiations between the teachers and school administrators. This is the second CBA between Morris Jeff and United Teachers of New Orleans since the Morris Jeff United Educators was recognized by the Morris Jeff Board of Directors with 92% support of the teachers and staff in 2013. In 2016, they were the second school to negotiate a CBA with the United Teachers of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The agreement reflects the unique learning environment offered at Morris Jeff, which is one of the most racially and economically diverse public schools in the history of New Orleans. In particular, these negotiations focused on building a collaborative relationship between teachers and administrators – one in which both voices felt heard and respected. “This contract exemplifies the shared values of the School and Union: high quality academic programs, teacher development, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Matthew Tuttle, a Fifth Grade Teacher and President of the Morris Jeff United Educators, a chapter of United Teachers of New Orleans.
Patricia Perkins, Head of School, continues, “The negotiations between the school and teachers for the past 10 months were marked by a strong spirit of collaboration, with the best interest of our students at the forefront of our conversations, and a keen commitment to how the new contract would further strengthen the mission of our school. I am proud of our process and see it as a beacon shedding light on how a teachers' union and a school can truly work side by side for the good of all stakeholders.”
The shared goals of the negotiations were to collaborate on a contract that was good for teachers, good for the school, but above all, good for students. Perhaps most importantly, the contract solidifies a number of joint-committees to provide further opportunities for collaboration between the Union and the school throughout the duration of the agreement. “I am particularly proud of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee,” said Michaela Gibboni, a Third Grade Teacher, “which will ensure that teachers have a voice in sculpting how we as a school serve our diverse community and produce students who are global citizens.” Moreover, the newly configured school Leadership Committee was developed to ensure that teachers in each program now have direct input into how their schools operate and succeed.
The agreement also solidifies pay increases for early childhood educators who were not included in the 2019 state-wide pay raise as well as all teachers and staff with an additional bump for paraeducators. With regards to pay, the agreement prioritizes the importance of teacher certification, which is not a requirement for charter schools in Louisiana. It will remain in effect until June 2023, at which point both parties will have the option to update the agreement as they see fit.