Detroit teachers' union, district reach tentative contract agreement ahead of first day of school

Deal considered 'a good first step'
Posted at 10:51 PM, Sep 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-06 05:33:08-04

Public school students in Detroit will return to a district that remains overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed. Many schools are still in dire need of repair.

But as the new school year starts, there may be reason to hope.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers announced a tentative contract offer Monday that may end a stalemate over wages and healthcare benefits that saw teachers call in sick several times during the last school year to shutdown the schools.

Interim-president Ivy Bailey described the deal as a 'good first step' towards keeping teachers in the classroom.

"A lot of things that were taken out, that we felt were punitive, those things have kind of been restored in a positive manner in our contract," Bailey said.

Details of the contract will be revealed to the rank and file in an informational meeting Tuesday at the Second Ebenezer church at 14601 Dequindre Road in Detroit, according to a release on the federation's website.

Detroit teachers haven't had a cost of living raise in nearly a decade. At the same time, their healthcare costs have skyrocketed.

Through the years, facilities haven't fared much better.

The city is making its way through a list of several school that are in dire need of repair.

There are also about 200 teacher vacancies that have not been filled ahead of the first day of school.

Given those challenges, former DFT president Steve Conn questions whether the tentative deal reached Monday should be enough to keep end the sick-outs or remove the threat of a strike.

"If the teachers stick to their guns with the actions they took last spring with the sick-outs and the walkouts by the
students as well. That's going to begin to pay off," Conn said.

Bailey said the tentative deal will be subject to a vote by the rank and file. Ballots will go out later this week. The deal is only expected to be good for about six months to a year.

The district was reorganized in June in exchange for millions in state funding.

A new school board will be appointed, which will have the opportunity to review the contract and approve or reject it.