03/27/2013

Detroit contracts will help maintain bargaining rights

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Just ahead of a deadline that threatened to eliminate their bargaining rights, three AFT affiliates that represent employees in the Detroit Public Schools have ratified new contract agreements. The Detroit Federation of Teachers, the Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals and the Detroit Association of Educational Office Employees represent thousands of workers in the 52,000-student district.

The unions were facing a March 28 deadline, when new state right-to-work and Detroit emergency manager laws would take effect. As with other AFT affiliates in the state, the Detroit locals worked overtime to get new contracts in place that maintain union protections at least through 2016. (See related story.)

"When you look at the innovative and effective reforms designed to move our students forward," says DFT president Keith Johnson, who is also an AFT vice president, "they are usually achieved through collaboration and the collective bargaining process, not through dictating and micro-managing."

The ratification shows that "our members are not willing to allow anyone to eradicate more than 45 years of educational improvement through the collective bargaining process with the senseless, relentless attacks upon teachers and the unions that represent them," he adds. [Dan Gursky, Detroit Federation of Teachers]

March 27, 2013