Here's What's Brewing Today
Monday, August 1, 2022
WTU Members -
I wanted to clarify a few issues that have been swirling around contract negotiations this summer. Statements by the leadership of the city and school district have clouded the status of negotiations. But their carefully selected words do not fully represent what is really happening. Let me clear it up.
First, although the school district has tried their best to blame the WTU for the delay, please ask yourself who benefits from this delay—the teachers or the city’s coffers? By not agreeing to a contract, the city essentially “pockets” the money that would be allocated for your pay increases. In fact, this has been their “MO” for years. WTU’s contracts and many other city workers’ contracts are routinely settled years after they expire. To imply the WTU is reason for the delay is complete nonsense and just a part of the city’s way of doing business—blame the unions.
Importantly, this line from a July 8th story in the Washington Post, “Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee said the sticking point in the labor contract is compensation” was news to the WTU negotiating team. While I understand the political need for the Chancellor to erroneously place the blame on the WTU for public consumption, compensation has not been “the” sticking point for DCPS. And the WTU team has pages of receipts to prove it. DCPS made it clear to WTU they have other priorities. Again, who benefits from this misdirection? But more about this later.
As for the WTU’s actual compensation proposal, all I am allowed to say is it in very much in line with other settlements in urban school districts around the country and reasonable given the district’s budget situation. Any other characterizations of our compensation proposal are not accurate. Here are DCPS’s operating budget numbers for the years in question (readily available on Internet):
FY 2019 (actual) = $1,012,124,685
FY 2020 (actual) = $1,082,912,343
FY 2021 (actual) = $1,142,377,778
FY 2022 (approved) = $1,322,728,419 (Federal stimulus funds included)
FY 2023 (proposed) = $1,162,122,368
During the time teachers have received zero cost of living increases, the school district’s annual operating budget increased by almost $150 million or more than 14.8%. And that does not include the federal stimulus money that the US Secretary of Education specifically said can be used to increase teacher recruitment and retention. So where does the additional $150 million per year and stimulus money go? And for that matter, where does $1,162,122,368 go? A good question for people to ask. A question more people in our city should ask.
But let me be clear: although the Chancellor failed to mention them, he and his team have put other consequential proposals on the table that have nothing to do with compensation. These proposals would further undermine the rights of DC’s teachers. And the Chancellor and his team have said to the WTU team many times that these proposals are their priortiy—not compensation.
Asking DC’s teachers to give up even more rights is unconscionable. DC’s teachers already have fewer rights than most other urban teachers in the country (e.g., lack of tenure, no say in evaluations). Make no mistake: DCPS has made it clear that these proposals to reduce your rights are their priority, regardless of what the Chancellor has told the press. Again, the WTU has the paperwork to prove it.
What does all this mean? The WTU has and will continue to work hard to come to an agreement. But the city’s current offer is not acceptable and would have been a major step back for DC’s teachers. I do agree with the Chancellor on one thing: we can get this done. But we will only settle the contract if the parties are honest with each other and the public. If it takes mediation or arbitration for that to happen, then that’s what needs to happen.
Have a restful time and I look forward to seeing you in the fall.
Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President
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August 1 @ 7pm - COPE meeting
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The WTU Committee on Political Education (COPE) will be meeting August 1 at 7PM to go over our candidate questionnaire for DC State Board of Education (SBOE) and finalize our timeline for general election endorsements.
There are going to be LOT of new faces on the SBOE since it appears that ALL the incumbents will not be running again. This presents an opportunity but also a challenge since 3/4 of those incumbents were our allies. So we will need to get to work!
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