Detroit teachers go on strike
August 31, 1999
DETROIT (CNN) -- Teachers in Detroit walked picket lines Tuesday on what was to be the first day of the new school year. Summer vacation was extended for at least one more day for the district's 170,000 students.
Members of the Detroit teachers' union on Monday rejected a 10-day contract extension, recommended by the union leadership, and decided to walk off the job, despite a Michigan law that forbids teachers to strike.
Teachers who remain on strike are at risk of losing a day's pay for every day they are out of the classroom and are also fined a day's pay for every day they are gone.
The previous contract between the Detroit Federation of Teachers and the school system expired June 30, and the extension ran out Monday.
The action comes at a time when Detroit school officials were optimistic about the future of the district. Hoping to boost test scores, the state took over the district last spring, pumped $80 million into the system and hired about 800 new teachers. District Chief Executive Officer David Adamany said he was very disappointed by the teachers' decision to walk out.
"We have a failing school district that involves 10 percent of all the students in the state of Michigan," said Adamany. Educational achievement levels are too low. When you attempt to change, the teachers go out on strike."
Union negotiator John Elliott said he too was disappointed by the move. Elliott recommended the teachers accept the 10-day contract extension and report to classrooms while negotiations continued.
Teachers walking the picket lines defended their decision, saying they were being treated unfairly by the school district.
Bargaining resumed Tuesday, ending for the night about 10 p.m. Mayor Dennis Archer cut short a vacation to return to Detroit, the nation's 10th-largest city. School officials did not expect classes to be held Wednesday.
Sticking points in negotiations are salary increases, merit pay and extended work days.
New York City facing severe teacher shortage
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