‘Vote no,’ some Detroit teachers urge

DETROIT - Detroit teachers would take home $500 less per month under a tentative contract agreement reached between union and district leaders last week, and some teachers aren't buying it, according to The Detroit News. While union leaders said the deal is the best available, The News reported that rank-and-file members have formed a "Vote No" committee.

The $250-per-paycheck pre-tax deduction would be deposited into a Termination Incentive Plan to help eliminate the district's $219 million deficit, according to The News. The money would be returned, with no interest, when the teacher leaves the district. Emergency financial manager Robert Bobb called the arrangement an "investment" in the district, while Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson warned that the alternative might be bankruptcy, drastic pay cuts, layoffs and loss of seniority, The News reported.

Teachers would not receive any pay increase for the first two years of the contract, followed by a 1 percent base salary hike in 2011, according to The News. Bobb said he also plans to reduce health care costs by $28 million.

About 7,000 DFT members gathered at Cobo Arena to review the contract Sunday, where many criticized the deal, according to The News. They have two weeks to vote.

"We haven't had a raise in several years, and I can't retire for 15 years, so what good is it for me?" sixth-grade teacher Renee Scheffler told The News. "The state got us into this mess, so they should get us out."

Detroit News, "Union warns: Beware layoffs if DPS pact fails," Dec. 7, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Cuts to the Classroom: How Will Funding Reductions Affect Michigan Students?" Nov. 9, 2009