DPSCD labor contracts with pay increases win board approval

A teacher standing in front of a bulletin board and next to a table with four students seated around it.
The Detroit Public Schools Community District board approved pacts with groups representing teachers, paraeducators, Teamsters, and school administrators. (Erica Lee for Chalkbeat)

Collective bargaining agreements between the Detroit school district and its employee unions for 2023-24 won approval Tuesday from the school board.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers, the Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals, the Teamsters union, as well as nonunion staff such as security guards, principals, and central office administrators, all reached agreements with the Detroit Public Schools Community District in late August and early September.

The one-year deal ratified by DFT members in August raises pay for senior teachers by 6% and provides retention bonuses to all members. 

“Our most veteran teachers deserve the increase,” Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said at Tuesday’s school board meeting, adding: “And they deserve even more than that. But we also have to get more competitive … . We’re losing mid-career teachers, and we have to pick up in that area as well.”

He said he’s optimistic that next year’s contract can provide more competitive salaries and incentives to attract teachers to DPSCD.

School districts across Michigan have had to contend with challenges in recruiting and retaining employees in recent years, and DPSCD in particular faces competition with surrounding and suburban districts that can pay enough to lure away DPSCD educators.

Among the other school employee unions, Teamsters Local 214 members and paraeducators received 5% wage increases, as well as retention and seniority bonuses. Nonunion staff get a 4% salary increase and a holiday bonus.

Wages for food service workers, among the hardest-to-staff positions, rise 17% from $15 an hour to $17.55, an increase that the district said would help with recruiting and retention.

Some union members complained during the meeting that the bargaining process wasn’t open enough to input from rank-and-file members.

Bargaining processes are intentionally held behind closed doors, Vitti said.

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“There are times when there are questions that are asked, and we may answer them at a high level, but we try to always respect the bargaining process,” he said.

Ethan Bakuli is a reporter for Chalkbeat Detroit covering Detroit Public Schools Community District. Contact Ethan at ebakuli@chalkbeat.org.

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