Message from DFT President [8.21.14]

DFT Members,
Like all of you, I am infuriated by the revised Deficit Elimination Plan submitted by the Emergency Manager, which includes the 10 percent reduction of salaries effective Oct. 1. This is on top of the restructured health care plan imposed on us, as well as the previous 10 percent pay reduction we've endured since 2011.

DPS cannot cut its way to prosperity, particularly at the expense of the employees whose salaries and benefits are not the reason it is on the brink of bankruptcy.

While some within the DFT are clamoring for some sort of walkout, such an action AT THIS TIME would undermine current efforts to avert the cuts. I urge you NOT to engage in any sort of walkout. The DFT has always prided itself in being a SOLUTION-BASED union and that is currently our focus; to develop a solution. I assure you we will not agree to anything that adversely impacts our membership.

Executive Vice-President Edna Reaves is leading our "fight back" actions recommended by you. We are asking all of our members to participate in these actions. Report to work on Monday, Aug. 25 and be ready to receive students on Tuesday, Sept. 2. As we demand that the district abides by the terms of our collective bargaining agreement, we also ask our members to do the same by reporting to work.

If our parents believe the start of school is in jeopardy, then we risk losing students, and the district risks losing funds. We risk losing our leverage should it become necessary to present a legal challenge to these changes in wages and benefits.

The DFT and the Coalition of Unions are already engaged in grievances challenging the health care changes and those efforts will continue. There has been a public outcry and condemnation of the revised DEP from parents, community leaders, as well as district employees, unionized and non-union alike. This condemning of the DEP has not gone unnoticed. We are currently engaged in substantive discussions, which COULD avert the need for the 10 percent pay cut, and those discussions have been productive.

I know you want the DFT to act immediately, and we have. We are voicing our disgust while mobilizing our members and proposing alternate solutions that will negate the need for a pay cut. I ask you to remember that the two previous times we challenged the EM in court, we prevailed. This occurred because we stayed unified in these fights. We are asking you to demonstrate that same trust as we combat this latest challenge.TOGETHER WE WILL PREVAIL!

In Solidarity,
Keith R. Johnson, DFT President

 

PARCC decision fails to address real issues

(Baton Rouge – August 20, 2014) Tuesday’s court ruling against the Jindal administration’s effort to block tests linked to Common Core State Standards fails to address the real issues facing teachers and their students as school opens for the 2014-15 school year, Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan said today.

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Thank You Community! [8.20.14]

Dozens of parents, community members, and school staff gathered today at Ludington Middle School to tell Gov. Snyder he needs to reject the current DPS plan because it does nothing but continue to destroy and dismantle our school district.

As you can see, the parents clearly understand the type of devastation this plan will yield and Snyder needs to listen to them. We are here to provide the students of Detroit Public Schools the best education possible and this plan does the exact opposite. Raising class sizes, closing schools, and reducing wages makes it impossible to attract the best and brightest personnel to educate our students. This significantly undermines the futures of DPS students.

We stand in solidarity with the parents and community members calling on Snyder to reject this plan and tell Emergency Manager Jack Martin to come to the table, engage all stakeholders, and design a plan that moves DPS forward educationally.

-Edna Reaves, DFT Executive Vice President

5 Actions to Fight Back! [8.20.14]

Here are actions the Coalition of Unions has planned based on members' suggestions. Mark your calendars for the following events and make your calls today. Tomorrow night's tele-town hall will give us further input on how we can fight back in additional ways and plan for upcoming events.

  1. Call Gov. Snyder and tell him to reject DPS' plan. Call (517) 335-7858 or (517) 373-3400.
  2. Tele-town hall Thursday, Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. Be sure your union has an updated phone number for you. Members will receive an automated call to participate in the tele-town hall.
  3. Door-to-door walk of solidarity in support of our students, Tuesday, Aug. 26 at 4 p.m. Details will be shared on the tele-town hall call and the DFT website.
  4. Rally at the Fisher building, Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 4 p.m.
  5. Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 1 step off at 9 a.m. AFT Michigan meet-up is at Michigan Ave. and 10th street (near Trumbull).

Do Teachers Have to Take VOWS OF POVERTY?

Teachers earn far less than their similarly educated counterparts in other occupations and have no 'perks' such as expense accounts, mileage reimbursement, tuition reimbursement, insurance and car allowances, etc. A report by the Center for American Progress recently found that it is not just early career teachers that suffer but mid and late career teachers struggle with paltry incomes in virtually every state. 

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Schauer Speaks on DPS Cuts [8.19.14]

Mark Schauer, Democratic candidate for governor, issued the following statement today on the Detroit Public Schools' deficit elimination plan that calls for the closing of 24 schools and a pay cut of 10 percent for staff:

"We are yet again seeing the devastating effects of Gov. Snyder's $1 billion
in cuts to education. Detroit is just one of the many school districts all over
the state that are reeling under Snyder's cuts. His policies are robbing some of
our most vulnerable students of the education they need to get ahead in life.
They're also likely to drive teachers away from the classrooms as their
paychecks keep getting smaller and it gets harder for them to make ends meet. We can and must do better to support our students, schools and educators. As
governor, I will fight to reverse Snyder's deep cuts to education and work to
ensure that all children have access to a top-notch education, regardless of
their ZIP code."

DFT Statement on Proposed Cuts [8.19.14]

Snyder must reject continued cuts to DPS that hurt students, teachers and communities 

Detroit Public Schools announced it would be making significant cuts that will harm Detroit students and communities.

“This latest proposed move by DPS to increase class sizes, close schools, call for more layoffs, force higher health care payments and implement another 10 percent wage cut must be rejected by Gov. Rick Snyder,” said Edna Reaves, DFT executive vice president“Gov. Snyder needs to do the right thing and scrap this proposal."

In a district with fewer and fewer school-age children, it is unconscionable to open the system up to unlimited charters schools with no quality control, or to force schools into an experimental district, like the Education Achievement Authority, that is clearly failing.

“How do we keep and attract the best and the brightest teachers and staff with yet another 10 percent wage cut and increased payments for health care?” Reaves asked. “We call on Gov. Snyder to turn down DPS’ proposed deficit elimination plan and work with the community, teachers and staff to address our students’ needs and rebuild DPS.

"The rank and file employees of DPS pour their hearts and souls into their work and will do what is necessary to prevent harmful cuts to vulnerable student populations. 

“Our members will fight this in the streets, in the courts and at the ballot box in November,” Reaves said. “The members of AFT Detroit care about Detroit’s children and cannot allow the DPS proposed plan to stand.”

Proposed 10 Percent Pay Cut [8.19.14]

As you are aware, at the end of the school year the district announced unilateral changes to our healthcare plans, increasing our premiums. The district’s imposed healthcare changes violate our collective bargaining rights and we have been fighting this.

The leaders of DPS local unions were called to a meeting Friday where the district revealed its deficit reduction plan. In another example of its inept ability to address the issues plaguing Detroit school children, the district proposed another round of devastating cuts that not only do not help to better educate our children but also blatantly disrespect the hard work and sacrifice of the employees of DPS. The cuts include:

  • 10 percent pay cut for all employees
  • The closing of approximately 24 schools
  • The elimination of 375 positions (undisclosed)

We cannot stand for this. It is incumbent on all of us to stand up and fight back, for ourselves, and more important, the children of Detroit. The executive boards of all three AFT Detroit unions met yesterday to discuss how we are going to fight back. In the coming days and weeks we are going to need all members to stand together. We are in the process of executing a legal strategy but that is not enough.

On Thursday Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. we will have a telephone town hall meeting to share in further detail what is known and also to solicit your input on what you are willing to do. We will call members so all you have to do is answer the phone. If you believe that your union may not have the best phone number for you on file please call 313-875-3500 or email mweertz@dft231.com to update your records. In the meantime we need members to:

  • Turn out friends, family and parents to the Labor Day Parade to help spread the word and show solidarity
  • Assist in making signs for the Labor Day Parade on Aug. 27
  • Call and email Jack Martin (313-870-3772) jack.martin@detroitk12.org per his open door policy and share how these cuts will affect you
  • Participate in upcoming solidarity actions at the start of school.

This is the beginning of our fight back strategy. Since Gov. Snyder was elected, the employees and students of DPS have been under attack. This November we have an opportunity for real change by electing Mark Schauer and beginning to roll back the horrible education policies of the Snyder administration. This election cycle is our opportunity to stand up and say “Enough is Enough.” We must make a statement for our profession and the students we serve.

We will continue to build a stronger union in this fight with your support. Again please join us for this very important telephone town hall on Thursday to discuss further.

In solidarity,

AFT Detroit Leadership

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