DPS Teachers Union Vows Not to Honor Tyrannical New Contract
Detroit Public Schools union members and supporters rallied March 23, 2010 outside the Fisher Building in the New Center near headquarters and the Emergency Financial Manager’s office. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
DPS teachers union vows not to honor ‘tyrannical’ new contract
8:33 PM, July 6, 2012
By Lori Higgins
Detroit Free Press Education Writer
The contract imposed on Detroit Public Schools teachers continues a 10% wage cut, reduces the amount of maternity leave they can take, eliminates assault pay for teachers and eliminates the payout of sick leave upon retirement.
The district posted the contract on its web site today. On Sunday, the district’s emergency manager, Roy Roberts, issued an order to impose the contract — a day after the previous contract expired. This new contract expires in 2015.
Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, said the union would not honor the contract and called it a “tyrannical edict” — language he has used all week to describe the imposition.
“We don’t have a contract, as far as we’re concerned,” Johnson said.
Roberts said earlier this week that the contract “produces the savings necessary for the district to ultimately return to financial solvency and remove the debt that erodes financial resources reaching the classroom.”
Johnson said he doesn’t understand the need for more concessions given the reductions in the district’s deficit.
Steve Wasko, spokesman for the district, said there are no economic surprises for teachers in the contract. An increase in teacher’s contributions toward dental care – from 10% to 20% – is required by state law, Wasko said.
Johnson said he’s glad the district finally posted the contract – after declining to release details this week. The union also declined to release the details of the contract.
“I want everybody to see just how little respect and how little value they have for their teachers,” Johnson said.
Among the changes:
• The previous contract allowed teachers to take a one-year, unpaid maternity leave. The new contract follows the language of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees up to 12 weeks of leave. Johnson said few teachers took the full year.
“There was really no financial incentive for them to eliminate that benefit to our members. They’re just deciding to eliminate everything that’s not protected by law.”
• Teachers who had been assaulted by a student or parent were previously able to receive their regular pay if they had to miss work. But the new contract eliminates that so-called assault pay. Employees instead would receive workers’ compensation and medical and rehabilitation benefits as governed by the Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Act. Johnson said this will not provide full pay for employees who’ve been assaulted.
• The new contract will eliminate the payout of sick leave when teachers retire.
Contact Lori Higgins at 313-222-6651, at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @LoriAHiggins.
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