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The de Blasio Administration and the city's main teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), are close to finalizing contract negotiations, those close to the talks say. It is likely to be a nine-year contract that includes the 4 percent raises for 2009 and 2010 that other municipal unions received and the UFT sought from the Bloomberg Administration. Raises would average 1.5 percent to 2 percent per year going ahead, much like the 11 percent raise over six years that subway and bus workers received earlier this year. The deal also may include substantial savings for the City on health coverage, with union members beginning to pay a portion of their premiums. There are likely to be changes to the teacher evaluation tool, whereby teachers are rated by a smaller number of factors than they are currently, and teachers could have more opportunities to make additional pay. The deal is also rumored to include a controversial proposal to encourage principals to take on teachers from the “absent teacher reserve.” It's been nearly five years since the UFT, with 75,000 teachers and 19,000 classroom paraprofessionals, contract expired. The impending deal will probably set a pattern for the roughly 150 other municipal unions, though the health savings could prove a stumbling block, as leaders of the city's uniformed unions are said to be opposed to the measure.

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