Richard A. Fowler
WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers’ executive council voted today to accept a request from the Detroit Federation of Teachers to place the local under voluntary administratorship. The action follows a year of extraordinary challenges for the local, including a constant barrage of threatened pay cuts, layoffs and privatization efforts as well as political infighting that has made it impossible for the local to serve the needs of its members effectively.
Under a voluntary administratorship, an AFT-appointed administrator would be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the local union. The current DFT leadership would stay in place and collaborate with the administrator on all decisions.
“The AFT and AFT Michigan understood our Detroit local came to this decision because of what’s at stake for their members and the people of Detroit. The local internal political fights have diverted attention and focus from the external quadruple whammy of austerity, benefit cuts, widespread charterization and layoffs,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Tonight, the AFT executive council voted to place the Detroit Federation of Teachers under a voluntary trusteeship. The DFT faces extraordinary challenges requiring an extraordinary response. Through the trusteeship, the DFT, AFT Michigan and the AFT will launch an unprecedented member-engaged, community-involved campaign to fight for public education, for the schools our children need, and for the dignity and respect our members deserve.”
AFT Michigan President David Hecker said, “Detroit teachers have gone through multiple rounds of benefits and pay cuts, and yet they still sacrifice for their students and buy school supplies out their own pockets. They shouldn’t have to do this. This voluntary administratorship will give Detroit educators the opportunity to have their voices heard across the city of Detroit.”
DFT Interim President Ivy Bailey said that the voluntary administratorship would seek to ensure a period of stability and concentration on the union’s priorities, such as fighting back against unilateral decisions being made by the emergency managers, pushing for more charter school accountability and working together to stop possible layoffs in the wake of a teacher shortage.
“The crisis before us is urgent,” Bailey said, adding that the voluntary administratorship “gives us a comprehensive and collaborative way to build a stronger DFT and a better future for our schools and those we serve.”