Detroit teachers approve 3-year contract

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Detroit — Unionized teachers in Detroit narrowly approved a three-year contract with Detroit Public Schools Community District on Thursday that provides a 7.13 percent wage increase over the next two years.

The contract for the Detroit Federation of Teachers calls for a 3 percent increase in 2017-18 and a 4.13 percent increase in 2018-19; a $1,750 bonus for some teachers with advanced degrees; five sick days; and a salary/wage reopener for the 2019-20 school year.

There will be no reduction of salaries, wages or other forms of compensation for members for the 2019-20 school year, union officials said, and there is a potential for an additional wage increase in the third year.

The union has about 3,500 members. . The vote was 515 to 474.

“I am pleased that our members have approved the agreement,” Ivy Bailey, DFT president, said in an emailed statement. “We certainly deserve more but the package offers us the opportunity to build our local, move our school district forward and place students first.”

The current contract expired June 30. The union’s executive board rejected a tentative agreement in May and approved the current proposal in June.

The Detroit district’s new superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, said earlier this month the district has 260 teacher vacancies, and filling them is one of his priorities over the summer. The district has about 2,700 teachers in the DFT.

After the vote on Thursday, Vitti said the salary increases associated with the agreement are far from what Detroit teachers deserve.

“However, it will be rewarding to provide teachers a necessary increase to their salary as the first step in making teacher salaries whole again after nearly a decade of ignoring the fact that our most important employees are teachers. We must, and will, prioritize competitive salaries for Detroit teachers as we all work together to rebuild our district,” Vitti said.

The district saves about $2 million by applying wage increases to the second half of the school year, DFT officials said.

DPSCD remains under the control of the state Financial Review Commission, which must approve all contracts.