D.C. teachers' union, city go to arbitration as contract drags on
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.”
- During a recent D.C. Council hearing, Ferebee noted that teacher retention was an issue, but said that public school teachers in the District are among the highest paid in the region, per Washington City Paper.
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.
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