Nov 21, 2022 - News

D.C. teachers' union, city go to arbitration as contract drags on

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Union contract negotiations between D.C. public school teachers and Mayor Muriel Bowser's administration is in arbitration — three years after the initial contract expired.

Why it matters: The Washington Teachers’ Union has been gridlocked over a new contract with DCPS since October 2019, which WTU president Jacqueline Pogue Lyons says is leading teachers to take jobs elsewhere.

  • The union argues that the lack of a contract is hindering teacher retention, with educators leaving DCPS for schools in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, the latter of which recently secured a contract.

State of play: Last Thursday, WTU — which has 5,000 members — wore red and staged an after-school walkout.

  • DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee criticized the action in a tweet, noting it occurred the same day both sides returned to the negotiation table.

An independent arbitrator took over the bitter negotiations last month, Washington City Paper reported, meaning a resolution may soon materialize. Despite the arbitration process, negotiations will continue between the two parties.

What they're saying: In a statement, DCPS said that they have been negotiating in “good faith” with WTU and are “proud of the offer we made that includes robust compensation increases for educators.”

The other side: However, the union says teacher pay raises are not comparable to those received by other government employees and higher-ranking DCPS workers, although they did not provide Axios with exact figures.

  • “Why should [teachers] take any less than other city workers?” Pogue Lyons said to Axios.

In addition to pay increases, WTU also wants the contract to include improved benefits and more teacher planning periods.

Between the lines: Teachers also say they are working in poor classroom conditions, which prompted emergency council legislation last year.

  • Earlier this year, a DCPS teacher told Axios of a persistent leak in her classroom. Parents have complained on Twitter of classroom heating issues as temperatures drop.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Washington D.C..


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Washington D.C. stories

No stories could be found

Washington D.C.postcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Washington D.C..


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more