Utica school district, teachers reach 2-year contract

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Utica Community Schools and the Utica Education Association have ratified a contract agreement between the Macomb County district and its 1,450 teachers, officials announced Monday night.

The new deal runs through June 30, 2022, "and provides stability for the school district, allowing them to focus on the needs of their students," the district said in a statement. 

"Across our community, teachers, staff members, and district leaders have embodied leadership and service in the midst of a very difficult time. UCS is proud of the work being done by its teachers during this difficult time," the release read.

Other details on the deal were not released Monday. District and union officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The district, the second largest in Michigan, remains closed for face-to-face instruction along with others statewide during the coronavirus pandemic. 

"UCS and the UEA remain committed to serving the families of our region," the district said Monday.  While education continues to change and be transformed, all sides remain focused on helping all students succeed."

Union president Liza Parkinson speaks during a rally in November.

The teachers' union had been negotiating with the district, the second largest in the state, for more than a year.

In January, the nearly 1,500-member union overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer from the district, saying it fell short in restoring lost wages. The district's offer covered a three-year period, including the 2019-20 school year, union officials said.

Union president Liza Parkinson has said the group's bargaining team hoped to restore lost wage steps —  where teachers earn an increase for each additional year of experience — that have cost teachers at least $65 million.

On Nov. 4, the union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the district for alleged violations of the Michigan Public Employment Relations Act. The union alleged the district's bargaining team “engaged in specific acts of bad faith” and “has sent representatives to the bargaining table without the actual authority to negotiate or reach an agreement.”