About 250 supporters rallied at the Administrative Service Center Nov. 22 in support of the Dearborn Federation of Teachers, American Federation of Teachers Local 681’s efforts to negotiate a new contract with Dearborn Public Schools. The teachers have not had salary step increases three of the past four years.
By CHRIS JACKETT
DEARBORN – Teachers and their supporters came out in droves Nov. 22 for a rally before a Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education meeting.
About 250 people attended the rally at the Administrative Service Center, urging the board to work with the Dearborn Federation of Teachers, American Federation of Teachers Local 681 to agree on a new contract.
The teachers are operating under their third step freeze in the past four years, a measure that saves the district about $3.2 million each time annual step raises are withheld.
“Negotiations are a compromise,” DFT President Christine Sipperley told rallygoers. “Negotiations are give and take on both sides. But the board’s idea of negotiations is the teachers give, the board takes.”
Sipperley said rally supporters included more than just Dearborn district staff, parents and students, but also teachers from the Roseville, Lamphere and Van Dyke districts, as well as Henry Ford Community College, Eastern Michigan University and more.
“The rally went really well,” Sipperley said. “The bottom line is that the school board refuses to compromise, the school board refuses to consider other cost-saving proposals, the school board would rather use intimidation and bullying instead of bargaining in good faith for a contract that is financially responsible, good for students and fair to teachers.”
During the ensuing board meeting, Sipperley spoke to clarify what she said were several erroneous statements made recently by school board members.
“Yes, the DFT requested a delay in fact finding,” Sipperley said. “However, it had nothing to do with comparables and had everything to do with the fact that we were making progress at the table, both formally and informally.
“And if there was a possibility that we could get a contract, then why spend the money and time needed to go to fact finding? After all, I thought the district was always looking for ways to save money during these difficult economic times.”
District representatives and the DFT last met Oct. 27 for negotiations, at which point union members were told by the representatives that the board had told them to cease negotiations until after fact finding, which was scheduled for last week.
“Since we were not at impasse and actually were making progress,” Sipperley said. “Fact finding would be a detriment, not a help.”
The district issued a statement Nov. 8 in response to DFT accusations that the board and district have engaged in unfair labor practices.
“The district feels that it has been negotiating in good faith and in accordance with the set procedures and rules,” the statement said. “During this process, the Dearborn Board of Education continues to support the hard work that Dearborn teachers are doing in the classroom. The desire of the board is to keep as many teachers as possible in the classroom, and at the same time, be mindful of current economic conditions.”
The next board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the ASC.
(Contact Chris Jackett at [email protected])