Teacher Strike

Today, on the first day of school in Detroit, Michigan some students came to class prepared, but their teachers did not show up at all. In fact some of them stood outside their buildings watching the children walk by while they held up signs denouncing their unfair wages.

On August 27, 2006, about 9,500 teachers associated with the Detroit Federation of Teachers decided that because of multiple issues with the School Board’s proposed contract they would not work rather than give in to what they call unfair demands.

According to a Yahoo News article, the proposed contract included “A 5.5-percent wage reduction and co-pays for health care benefits of up to 20 percent. Only two teachers out of about 6,000 voted to accept the district’s proposal, the union said.” On the other side, “The district said it needs $105 million in concessions from its unions, including $88 million from teachers, to balance its budget.” Ouch, that’s a lot of money. Adding insult to injury to the teachers is last year’s promise from the district that if the teachers would agree to no pay raise (which has occurred over the last three years) that they would receive a raise this year. Now the Board is asking for a pay cut. Ouch again.

Last week a District Court judge ordered teachers and union reps as well as school officials to work around the clock together in order to reach a settlement. One union representative stated that they have been working 18 hours a day negotiating for a plausible settlement.

In order for the elementary schools to be opened for a little over two hours today, parents, and community leaders volunteered to be in the classrooms, joining other school officials to say that the schools opened-without the regular teachers. None of the High Schools were able to hold classes. Only about 25,000 students in a district of 129,000 showed up for class. All schools in the district will be closed on Wednesday September 6, 2006.

Just for an added twist-public school employees are not allowed to strike according to a state law. Teachers could be fined one-day’s pay for every day they strike. Well, that might help offset the budget deficit…

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