DPS: Merit pay and strike talk

DETROIT – Merit pay likely will be a sticking point in teacher contract talks in Detroit in coming months, according to The Detroit News. The News reported that the Detroit Federation of Teachers indicated it would strike this fall if the administration adopted performance pay and changed seniority rules.

However, DFT President Keith Johnson also has said that the union anticipates that its members will be in the classroom on the first day of school and that teachers want to help the district address a budget that overspends revenues by $306 million, The News reported. Johnson said there is no empirical evidence showing that merit pay improves student achievement, according to The News.

State Superintendent of Instruction Michael Flanagan, reacting to the strike talk, said that, “All parties need to be respected in negotiations, but teacher strikes are illegal,” The News reported.

Meanwhile, the district has received a $169 million loan from the state to help it with cash flow needs, including obligations to pay employees, vendors and pension contributions, The News reported.

The Detroit News, “DPS gets $169 million loan to aid cash flow,” May 1, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Make unions accountable for illegal strikes,” Dec. 22, 2008