Detroit Teachers Strike

September 3, 2006

On August 27, 9,500 teachers and social workers in the Detroit public schools went on strike to defend their wages and benefits.

Picket lines have been set up at schools across the city. Parents, students, unionists from many industries and concerned people from all walks of life have enthusiastically joined the teachers' struggle. According to the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) less than 1% of its members have crossed the picket lines.

A Wayne County judge ordered the DFT and the administrators of the school district to engage in round-the-clock negotiations under a "gag" order (negotiators are not allowed to tell the public or their members of the status of the talks). While these negotiations and the strike continue, the school district is demanding a court injunction against the strike; the threat of fines and other attacks hang over the teachers' heads. Classes for 130,000 students begin on September 5.

The main issue is the demand of the city to cut teachers' wages and benefits by $90 million over the next 2 years. The district's proposals include a 5« percent wage cut, the freezing of all step increments for 2 years, and steep increases in co-premiums for health insurance. In addition, the district wants to eliminate one prep period per week for K-8 teachers and increase the school day.

The teachers, who are amongst the lowest-paid in the area, are demanding a 5% raise for each of the next 3 years and no cuts in benefits.

The strike vote was virtually unanimous (nearly 6,000 to 2). On August 22, a few days before the strike vote, 5,000 teachers and supporters marched in downtown Detroit in support of their demands.

Not only in Detroit but all across the country, the government is slashing funds for education, letting the public schools fall into ruin and intensifying the exploitation of teachers all along the line. This is one reason why the struggle of the Detroit teachers deserves the support of everyone who values public education.