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History of the DFT

1916- Faced with salary cuts and "yellow dog" contract, Chicago teachers take first steps to form national teachers union. Delegates from locals in Gary, Ind., New York, N.Y., Oklahoma City, OK., Scranton, PA. and Washington, D.C. meet and found American Federation of Teachers. Month later, union is chartered by American Federation of Labor (AFL).
1920’s- Early attempt to organize union of Detroit teachers fails when city’s daily newspapers launch media attack on teacher "unionism" and principals threaten instant dismissal of teachers who dare to join up.
1931 - On February 24, feisty band of Detroit teachers, ignoring threats of reprisals from school administration, is awarded charter as Detroit Federation of Teachers Local 231.
1938-40 - After operating several years underground, fledgling DFT emerges to fight and win restoration of depression pay cuts, 10 days’ sick leave, 10-month school year plus breakthrough in slashing class size from over 50 to less than 40 students.
1942 - DFT secures first salary increase for Detroit teachers in 20 years plus single salary schedule, halting sub-standard pay scale for elementary teachers.
1944 - DFT wins seniority policy and adoption of rules on unsatisfactory ratings. Also puts halt to "nurse spy" visitations of absent teachers.
1945 - Union gains sweeping reforms which result in establishment of sound retirement system for teachers and wins significant benefits for returning World War II veterans.
1946 - DFT is victorious in back pay suit which restores long overdue $2 million in depression year paycuts to teachers.
1947 - DFT wins sabbatical leave and exchange teaching privileges for teachers.
1948 - Union wins adoption of 15 days’ annual sick leave, cumulative to 200 days in "sick bank".
1949 - Major reform pioneered by DFT is realized when board adopts legally-binding contracts for teachers, guaranteeing continuing permanent employment (before this time, teachers had no contracts). Union begins fight to win duty-free lunch periods. "Resentment against a system which requires teachers to forfeit their lunch hour - a period of rest and relaxation which they above all other workers need - is mounting daily", says the Union. Of 106 teachers and administrators who retire that year, 36 are 70 or older.
1950 - Following Union probe of school fund practices, DFT takes position that needed teaching materials should be provided from tax monies, not by privately-raised school funds. Bowing to Union demands, board requires both accounting of school funds and elected committee to supervise raising and disbursing of funds. History is made when superintendent says principal is responsible for personal and public relations of his/her school. Policy is matter of simple justice, says Union, adding: "For years we have been dealing with situations in which administrator was always blameless and teacher was always at fault. This decision will do much to control petty tyranny and dictatorship where they exist."
1951 - DFT wins half pay for sabbatical leave. Union asks teachers to withhold Torch Drive contributions until money is provided to buy clothing to keep needy kids in school. Union sets as goal reform of unfair promotion system, saying most promotions are the result of "favoritism". Commenting on DFT’s 20th birthday, Union executive secretary says, "Our greatest battles are still to be fought . . . our greatest triumphs still ahead."
1952 - Hard feelings between teachers who carry student load of teachers with shortened programs because of extracurricular activities is eased when administration sends out directive sought by union equalizing workload.
1953 - Over 53% of teachers say, in union poll, that "knowing the right people" and "pull" are most important factors in promotions. Teachers also voice "no confidence" vote in board’s "new" promotion policy. DFT’s popular booklet, "How to Make Your Lions Love You", debuts.
1954 - After long effort, union wins discipline policy protecting teachers in unavoidable use of corporal punishment. In practice, this means teachers will be upheld in "all reasonable" methods of discipline. DFT opposes spreading salary over 12 months and says in hard times board can cut salaries "for those summer months when teachers don’t work anyway" without ripple of public protest.
1955 - Union starts to fight to win longevity pay. DFT proposes that students remain home day after report card marking so parents can come to school and confer with teachers. At board hearing, DFT warns that Detroit "for the first time has lost its lead to its suburbs in teachers’ salaries. Warning signals of the exodus to the suburbs have been raised . . . These communities which depend upon the healthy existence of the central city are now profiting greatly. The situation cries out for bold leadership. We must no only keep pace with suburbs but stand in the forefront. The consequences are obvious. We shall lose teachers . . . and the continuing flow of young people, so necessary to balance of our system, will cease."
1956 - Board adopts death benefit insurance policy, long pushed by DFT, providing each employee $1,00 life insurance while employed or $350 at death with costs borne by board. Michigan Governor F. Mennen Williams and AFT President Carl Megel helps DFT celebrate 25th birthday with keynoter, U of M Professor Wesley Maurer repeating role when he spoke in 1931 at first large DFT meeting. Writing in Detroit Teacher, a member says, "Teachers must learn to blow their own horns" or "public will squeeze our professional life’s blood and leave us to wither at our desks as overworked and underpaid senior clerks and somewhat glorified babysitters" and calls for repeated doses of that "social antibiotic - money."
1957 - With Board chambers at 1354 Broadway overflowing with teachers and more parading outside, board votes teachers $250 pay increase plus $150 longevity bonus for teachers with 30 years of service. Superintendent publicly commits himself to rank-order list of promotional candidates. DFT says way to halt exodus of Detroit teachers in droves is to "pay the best salaries in the country and to make teaching conditions as nearly ideal as is possible in a big city system." Historic precedent is set when board agrees to pay teacher $6,000 for injuries suffered when assaulted by a parent.
1958 - DFT takes sharp exception to superintendent’s edict that teachers remain "half an hour after dismissal." Board finally approves funds to hire neighborhood women to supervise so teachers can have duty-free lunches. It took four more years of persistent DFT pressure to fully implement this benefit. Another goal is achieved when board sets aside school time for parents’ visits to classrooms and individual parent/teacher conferences.
1959 - Union heralds breakthrough in severe substitute shortage when board accepts union recommendation to relax qualifications for emergency subs. On union’s insistence, board removes "D" rating of teacher who dared to protest unfairness of his school’s lunch duty schedule.
1960 - Despite opposition from Detroit Education Association (DEA), union was full board subsidy of hospital insurance. Union gathers over 7,000 signatures in support of benefit. DFT asks board to dismiss all elementary and middle schools minimum of two half-days each semester for parent-teacher conferences.
1961 - Union secures released time for parent-teacher conferences. Board agrees to DFT demand for at least 7½ paid holidays annually. Union, appalled at board’s "exploration" of merit pay proposal, launches successful campaign against merit pay in any form.
1962 - Seniority policy is preserved intact after DFT fights attempt by board to discard policy. "Seniority rights should be basically the right to have job protection in the system and seniority should not be an obstacle to the accomplishment of balanced staff assignments in the individual schools," says the union.
1963 - Union defeats board attempt to add sixth class to secondary teachers’ schedules as austerity measure after millage defeat. "Children must not be punished for their parents’ vote but neither must teachers bear the full brunt of attempts to make up for the loss of millage," says DFT in recommending its own plan to meet crisis. DFT wins reversal of directive that substitutes will not be provided for teachers absent only one day. More than 1,000 teachers attend fall rally to demand board set date for collective bargaining election. On bitter, cold December day, 3,000 teachers demonstrate in front of Schools Center Building and jam board’s meeting room with battle cry, "Name the Date."
1964 - May 11, 1964 - VICTORY! After two-year battle, DFT is voted sole bargaining agent by large majority of classroom teachers. In September, union negotiates major gains for teachers in wages, fringes plus voice in policy-making but is denied full recognition as teacher representative because of interpretation of legal statutes. DFT spearheads drive to win bargaining rights for all public employees in Michigan.
Extra pay, rather than compensatory time, for extra curricular activities in high schools is established when board adopts supplementary pay schedule negotiated by union for athletic coaches. Union puts on table demand for extra pay for teachers who take extra classes when substitutes are not available. Instead, board institutes short-lived plan in which administrators, including those at top, are asked to substitute five days a year.
1965 - Under new state legislation, DFT signs historical first comprehensive contract with board covering salaries, fringe benefits and working conditions. Contract guarantees teachers voice in policies affecting them and recognizes DFT as exclusive bargaining agent for Detroit teachers. Detroit is third major city to negotiate and sign exclusive agreement, following New York and Philadelphia. Signing of contract comes almost on second anniversary of union march to demand bargaining rights.
1966 - School Union Committees swing into action and procedure for filing grievances, key provision of new contract, is explained and put into operation. Union holds first of still-ongoing Building Representatives workshops. In September, members ratify second contract calling for improved salaries and working conditions. Contract guarantees teachers’ report card marks will not be changed; a prohibition against secret files on teachers; eradication of odious "half hour after school" rule; daily time allowance for reps to fulfill union duties; and allocation of school funds to be controlled by teacher committee. Contract also offers teachers option of joining Community Health Association, CHA, a forerunner to present day health maintenance organizations, making preventative health care available to those who prefer it to standard medical coverage.
1967 - DFT and Michigan Federation of Teachers co-sponsor first "Racism in American Education" conference patterned after AFT Conference on Negro History. In June, by margin of over 60%, teachers vote to retain DFT as their collective bargaining agent.
FIRST STRIKE: DFT proves it can back up its demands with action when members stage first work stoppage in history of Detroit public schools. Teachers stand firm and walk picket lines in support of union’s "No Contract, No Work" stance. When threats of calling a special session of Legislature to take away Detroit teacher tenure rights, spunky DFT member snaps back, "then they’ll just have to call a special session of the Legislature to reinstate our rights." After three days of round-the-clock negotiations, members ratify 2-year contract providing for $1,700 salary boost, progress toward quality education, improved working conditions and joint union-board Class Size Review Board.
1968 - Call to decentralize Detroit schools appears on DFT agenda for first time. Teachers come to grips with racism in the curriculum and textbooks when union’s Committee Against Racism in Education (CARE) stages series of seminars. In September, union-negotiated, federally funded Neighborhood Education Centers programs gets underway at four Detroit schools - Field, Field Annex, Bell and Berry.
1969 - Administration-imposed "substitute quota" system dies when DFT wins grievance against board for filing only a portion of requests for subs. In June, members ratify a contract calling for salary increase to be based on average of highest salaries in tri-county area, lower class sizes, improved hospital benefits, a day free of students for planning and duty-free schedules for Building Representatives. Decentralization of Detroit schools becomes reality when governor signs bill mandating nine regional boards. As Detroit school finances become ever tighter, Detroit Teacher comments editorially: "Several decades ago, Detroit was considered a ‘rich’ school district, whose salary rates led all in Michigan, save Dearborn, Grosse Pointe and several other posh districts. Now, thanks to millage defeats, unusual expenses and other factors working against us, we must be considered a ‘poor’ district."
1970 - Agency shop provision becomes effective in January. For fifth time since bargaining for public employees in Michigan became law in 1965, DFT’s agency shop fee clause passes court test of its validity with flying colors. DFT says it is opposed to across-the-board ratings of teachers and will fight any attempt to impose punitive rating form "which harks back to the 1930’s when teachers lived in fear of instant unsatisfactory ratings." Salary hike in September at M.A. maximum is largest in history of Detroit. Union tells women teachers it’s okay to wear pants or pantsuits in classroom.
1971 - Union declares all-out war against Form 4046 requiring arbitrary ratings by principal of tenure teachers with aim of imposing incentive or merit pay plan. Worried by cuts in staff and service, no first-day calls for subs, harassed teachers term 1971 "the plague year." Sit-ins take place for quality education. Union wins signal victory when court issues injunction against use of Form 4046. Rating forms are delivered to union where they are shredded into oblivion. Joint union-board committee is charged with developing anonymous "evaluation instrument."
One year banner contract, ratified in September by mailed ballot, provides for binding arbitration, protection against unjust discipline or dismissal, continuation of salary formula. DFT wins one of briefest, but mot comprehensive safeguards in contract, the "just cause’ clause, which says: "no employee shall be discharged or disciplined unjustly."
1972 - Following Board’s decision to withhold increments and retroactive pay due teachers, DFT and twelve other school unions hold council of war, demanding board rescind its action. Freeze is rescinded but board does not release funds. In July, union gets temporary injunction preventing board from terminating 1,548 teachers and slashing school year to 117 days. In September, members ratify extension of 1971-72 contract and reject all board attempts to cut salaries and eliminate preparation periods. Board threatens to close schools for eight weeks because of millage failure but rescinds action when Legislature pledges to resolve district'’ fiscal problems.
1973 - DFT wins contracts for 900 ESRP’s (Emergency Substitutes in Regular Positions) through court action. Decision is upheld by appeals court. ESRP’s are working in regular full-time positions without contract benefits such as job security, seniority credit, full insurance and sick leave. Board can also dismiss them on two days’ notice. Spectre of school closing looms again as teachers receive layoff notices affixed to paychecks in January. DFT says it will fight in courts, Legislature on wherever else to give Detroit’s schoolchildren full school year. In nick of time state legislature saves schools from scheduled March 16 closing by imposing tax increase on Detroit residents. Court orders board to replace "phony" contracts given some teachers. Union agrees to extend contract to July 1 but warns of its "No Contract, No Work" stance.
SECOND STRIKE: Brave, scrappy Detroit teachers keep vigil on picket lines for 43 days. Over 9,000 teachers and labor supporters demonstrate at Schools Center Building on October 11 "Day of Labor Concern." Strike ends October 17 when board agrees to no reprisals or damages against union, improvements in working conditions, job security for ESRP’s. Both parties agree to submit class size and salaries to binding arbitration. After strike ends, Wayne County court judge imposes over $1 million in punitive fines against union. DFT appeals.
1974 - Union opposes required residency for teachers but board passes residency requirement for all new hires and employees seeking promotion. On April 11, arbitration award tops board’s offer and gives 8.4% salary increase to teachers at maximum; 8% to teachers on Steps 2 through 10; 2% for teachers at Step 1; plus mandatory class size maximums of 34 in K-4, 35 in grades 5-12, effective in September. In August, citizens group working through state mediators, breaks deadlock in contract negotiations. Contract, ratified by 94% of membership, gives teachers rollover of 1973 wage increase, bringing total of hike at maximum to over 17% in two years. Union also wins layoff and recall procedure language in contract, firm calendar for school year, extra paid holiday at Christmas and dumping of accountability procedure. In September, board’s residency edict is quashed by MERC (Michigan Employment Relations Commission) judge because it was imposed unilaterally without negotiating with employees. MERC guarantees union right to all information necessary for negotiations and enforcement of contract.
1975 - After determined opposition from DFT, board scuttles residency plan. Labor solidarity of DFT, MFT, AFL-CIO and UAW temporarily saves jobs of Crestwood teachers who are fired after striking and replaced with scabs. Michigan appeals court overturns lower court and lifts fines levied against DFT in aftermath of 1973 strike. DFT wins both court case and grievance to dump Region 1’s controversial "Assessment Inventory" form. U.S. District Court in August issues Detroit school desegregation order, calls for Monitoring Commission to oversee plan.
Two-year contract ratified in September includes board-paid full family health coverage with dental option; $10,000 life insurance, increasing to $15,000 in September, 1976; 5% teacher retirement contribution to be paid by board; beginning in 1976; firm class size maximums for all grades. Teachers at Step 1 get 10% salary boost; teachers at Step 3 to 11, 5% hike; another 3% hike February 5, 1977; $5 per hour for all workshops; one or more unrestricted personal business day; maternity policy liberalized; seniority provisions tightened. Federal court orders uniform student conduct code; DFT input reflected in code; code appendix contains copy of DFT contract article on discipline.
1976 - Detroit becomes nation’s largest school system to operate under court-ordered desegregation plan on January 26. Plan calls for busing students, both black and white, changes school boundary lines and reorganizes schools into K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 levels. Court bars use of Region 1’s extra report card. DFT wins another victory when use of preparation periods for departmental or faculty meetings is outlawed. Union wins precedent-setting grievance that all lost prep periods must be repaid within five school months.
State supreme court upholds January 1973 lower court decision sought by union to grant contracts to 900 ESRP’s or "Gilmores" as they came to be called because of judge who orders quality education components and directs board and state to share equally in costs. Board is chastised by court for failure to implement student conduct code. Court action by union upholds right of teachers on expired leave to return to courtroom despite board’s claim of economic hardship. DFT wins certification for secondary teachers assigned to 6th grade classes as a result of reorganization of school levels. DFT reaffirms opposition to decentralization and urges governor to make independent study of how it is working.
1977 - In landmark decision, U.S. Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of agency shop clause in public sector in case brought against DFT. Ruling brings law governing union activity on behalf of public employees in line with earlier private sector rulings by high court. Decision impacts favorably on working people throughout nation. Arbitrator agrees with union and awards 43-week teachers 11 days of sick leave, retroactive to 1967-68. Labor comes to rescue during impasse and members ratify 2-year contract providing for 3% salary increase for Step 2 through maximum, 7% at Step 1 and wage reopener in 2nd year. Contract establishes cadre of 450 full-time substitutes and guarantees no loss of pay or sick days on "snow days."
1978 - Union zaps administration attempt to impose teacher absence form. DFT wins snow day pay for teachers who didn’t make it through drifts during January 28 blizzard. Wage and fringe reopener in September garners 6% salary hike, reduced eligibility for $150 longevity bonus from 30 to 15 years; adds board-paid dental insurance to health coverage for teachers plus one or other for their families. Union wins arbitration ruling that athletic coaches must come from ranks of DFT members. Union wins record back pay award of over $60,000 for improperly discharged teacher.
Gilmore Climax: After six year court fight by DFT, board forks over $325,000 to "Gilmore" teachers whom the board refused to grant contract to in 1973, instead treating them as "permanent substitutes." Union wins reversal of ban against handicapped persons teaching in classroom.
1979 - Faced with contempt of court action brought by union, board concedes it may not unilaterally require residency as continuing condition of employment for teachers. DFT wins $56,000 in back pay for librarian who is unable to work after being assaulted by student.
13-DAY STRIKE: After walking picket lines and stymieing board attempts to get back-to-work court injunction, members ratify 3-year contract calling for salary increases of 7%, 9% and 9% with option of wage reopener in 3rd year. New pact increases life insurance from $15,000 to $20,000, increases RES substitute pool to 550 and gives health insurance coverage to Emergency Substitutes who work five days weekly. Issues of daily preparation periods for elementary teachers and residency for new hires are to be submitted to non-binding fact-finding.
DFT wins arbitration ruling that union can take board violations of class size maximums directly to court for relief without resorting to grievance procedure. DFT slashes number of teacher transfers needed for desegregation purposes from 2,000 to 200. Union holds first weekend conference for Building Representatives at Colombiere Center in Clarkston. DFT whittles planned "monster" middle school report card down to short, simple form.
1980 - Struggle to raise student achievement gets even tougher as board imposes freeze on hiring and supplies, including textbooks. DFT wins modification of Region 1’s Excel Through Competence (ETC) plan. Federal appeals court orders all regions included in desegregation bussing plan. Union sponsors first stress workshop for burnt-out teachers. Local 231 is host to brother and sister unionists from across country as American Federation of Teachers holds its64th convention in Detroit. Jimmy Carter is first U.S. president to ever address an AFT convention.
In second year of DFT contract, members get 9% wage boost plus $3 co-pay drug prescription plan. Fact-finder, in non-binding decision, declares all elementary language arts and special education teachers working with DORT should have daily 50-minute preparation periods plus computer assistance. Governor signs bill pushed by DFT consolidating Detroit and outstate retirement systems into Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, ensuring that all state school retirees get equal treatment.
1981 - 50th Birthday: On February 24, DFT celebrates 50th anniversary of its founding in 1931. Veteran teachers recall remarks made by popular Detroit News columnist on occasion of union’s 25th birthday: "It is superfluous to wish continuation of the DFT for many another 25-year period. It will be flourishing long after I’m not around - or even you!"
Union wins when arbitrator rules no involuntary transfers are permitted under DFT’s contract except those made under unsatisfactory rating procedure. DFT joins drive to oppose President’s proposed drastic cuts in federal aid to education which will axe $25 million from Detroit school budget. Arbitrator rules board must pay back wages to teachers issued untimely layoff notices in summer of 1980.
By overwhelming margin, Detroiters vote September 15 to dump decentralization of Detroit public schools after vigorous campaign by DFT. Busload of teachers travels overnight to Washington, D.C. to take part in historic Solidarity Day march called by labor in support of jobs and justice. DFT wins six major arbitration victories. In third year of DFT contract, teachers get 9% salary boost, full family health and dental coverage for first time plus hike in longevity bonus from $150 to $250. Arbitrator agrees with union that board must use "all available substitutes." In another victory, arbitrator says board must pay teachers for compulsory workshops held during regular teachers’ meetings.
1982 - By large margin, DFT members vote to reject board demands for wage concessions. In retaliation, board issues layoff notices to 150 teachers on eve of Christmas break. Board issues 366 more layoff notices in January. Before layoffs take effect, 250 teachers are recalled as union accuses board of pink-slipping too many teachers in callous attempt to force concessions from union. DFT again joins fight against still more cuts in Title 1 funds. Threat of payless paydays for Detroit teachers ends when state treasurer approves cash advance to Detroit after plea from DFT, MFT and school officials. Another 97 teachers are recalled. Decentralization is dead as governor signs bill scrapping Detroit’s regions. Union scores three more arbitration victories. Union warns board in June not to use hard times to "plunder, pillage" contract and rejects board attempts to gut DFT contract.
STRIKE: In September, teachers strike for 16 days when union "asks for nothing and board says that’s too much" and instead demands rollbacks. Agreement seems at hand October 3 but in dramatic turn, board welshes and turns down settlement. Citizens Committee intercedes and helps hammer out new agreement. One year contract provides for wage freeze with all remaining issues to be resolved in binding fact-finding.
Union wins key arbitration ruling that teachers must be paid monetarily for lost preparation periods not repaid in time within five months of date lost. DFT goes to court to enforce award on hiring all substitutes. Union wins four more arbitration victories.
1983 - New era begins on January 1 as 11 member central board replaces former region boards and 13 member central board. Fact-finder orders teachers to "lend" board 10 days’ pay to be repaid in installments over next 10 years at then prevailing salary rates. Fact-finder orders board to pay increments and rejects board request to drop longevity bonus and to impose deductibles for health and dental insurance coverage. Fact-finder says "yes" to union proposals limiting teachers’ meetings to one hour, upping mileage allowance and naming lower-cost dental carrier.
DFT joins successful effort to release deferred school aid funds so teachers will not go payless. Board agrees to relieve teachers of computer record tasks. Legislature okays temporary hike in state income tax, ending threat of future payless paydays. DFT wins right of teachers on one-year maternity leaves to return to same teaching assignment.
Early Retirement: DFT wins early retirement incentive plan for one year for teachers 55 or older with 30 years’ service, who will get annual $5,000 stipend through age 61. Teachers pink-slipped in April win reprieve when over 160 high seniority teachers opt for early retirement. Arbitrator rules day trade teachers are seniority employees and can only be laid off in inverse order of seniority.
In September, teachers ratify two year contract providing for wage freeze but full increments in first year plus 6% wage hike in second year. Contract also calls for Martin Luther King’s birthday to be paid holiday plus early start to school in second year to provide for fuel saving mid-winter weeklong break. DFT tells board while it favors homework, it will never agree to any plan setting arbitrary amounts, times. Centralized school system gets new look as six geographic "areas" plus special "area" for high schools replace old regions.
May 1984 - The U.S. District Court abolishes the Monitoring Commission and relegates responsibility for implementation of educational components ordered in the Detroit school segregation case back to the Board of Education.
September 1984 - Teachers get 6% salary increase in second year of DFT contract. For the first time, members will get a one-week break in February.
October 1984 - The Michigan Education Association (MEA) begins a "millions of dollars" campaign to unseat the DFT as bargaining representative for Detroit teachers and the union launches a strong counterattack.
June 1985 - In the largest election ever conducted by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC), DFT members overwhelmingly defeat an MEA attempt to raid the DFT, maintaining the local’s 53 year affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.
June 1985 -The Michigan Legislature adopts an 80 point plan, pioneered by the DFT and Michigan Federation of Teachers, which improves retirement benefits and provides greater benefits for older employees to retire early.
September 1985 - "The biggest raise ever!" DFT wins record-setting 10% across-the-bard increase in a two year contract, which boosts teacher pay, a total of 17.8%. The union also wins full family vision care.
October 1985 - In a major victory for the DFT and the NAACP, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Detroit federal court erred in terminating its jurisdiction over the Detroit Public Schools’ code of student conduct and community related program.
DFT presses board to provide teachers with timely deliveries of school supplies, including textbooks, workbooks, paper and duplicating fluid.
April 1986 - In a referendum election, DFT members vote to give the union’s Executive Board the authority to use up to 5% of the DFT’s dues income for political action.
The Michigan Court of Appeals rules that laid-off teachers cannot be denied unemployment compensation benefits on the basis of being offered a substitute position at a considerably reduced wage and less desirable working conditions. The decision involved two Detroit teachers.
September 1986 - Detroit teachers get a 4% wage boost in August and an additional 3% increase in the second year of a two year contract.
Fall 1986 - Protesting the Board of Education’s "trickle down" theory for supplies, the DFT keeps pushing, poking and prodding the board to keep the line of supplies moving into the schools.
November 1986 - Thanks to Detroit voters who said "yes" to a special bond issue, the city’s aging school buildings will get a new lease on life. Leaky roofs, drafty windows and outdated boilers will be replaced with energy saving models.
December 1986 - Teachers and all other public school employees in Michigan must make a decision this month about whether to choose the Basic Retirement Plan or the new Member Investment Plan, popularly known as MIP, a forced savings plan which guarantees certain additional advantages at a cost of 4% of every paycheck.
February 1987 - DFT wins a major victory when an arbitrator rules that the contract requires a full 30 day trial period is required before a teacher may be rated unsatisfactory.
September 1987 - Battling a Board of Education that refuses to engage in meaningful negotiations, the DFT, after a 16 day strike wins a 6.5% raise for 1987-88, 7% hike or arbitration for 1988-89, and 6% or no contract for 1989-90. The school board’s only position in bargaining is a wage freeze in the first year and a conditional 2% in the second year dependent on a tax increase and a large concession in health insurance coverage.
December 1987 - In a mean repeat of an action it took in December 1981, the Board of Education just before Christmas, issues layoff notices to 76 DFT members, including attendance agents and school social workers.
April 1988 - Calling Detroit "a school system besieged with problems," labor leader Tom Turner tells DFT Building Representatives "it’s time for a change in the school superintendent and some Board of Education members."
May 1988 - The DFT rebuffs superintendent’s call for merit pay for teachers.
September 1988 - Most teachers laid off last winter are recalled.
May 1989 - The Board of Education votes to rescind layoff notices sent to over 1,700 teachers in April after DFT charges the layoffs will cause "educational chaos in the schools."
Former State School Superintendent John Porter is named DPS general superintendent when Arthur Jefferson retires after heading the school district for 13 years.
September 1989 - By an 8 to 1 margin, members approve a one year contract calling for a 6% pay increase, a return to four report cards and a continuation of the popular attendance incentive pilot program.
September 1989 - The DFT and the Michigan Education Association Detroit Great Cities Project launch a joint "Homework Hotline" program.
November 1989 - Tripartite arbitration panel awards DFT members 5% pay award for the 1988-89 school year.
January 1990 - Lack of teaching materials remains a constant thorn for teachers, results of a DFT questionnaire show.
February 1990 - The DFT calls on members to refuse to be part of any school empowerment plan until the Board of Education negotiates an acceptable set of guidelines with the union.
May 1990 - Teaching in Detroit is tough, frustrating and sometimes dangerous, members responding to a union questionnaire say: Leading the list of problems faced by teachers every day is lack of support from administrators, severe discipline problems, excessive paperwork and much too large class sizes.
September 1990 - In an eleventh hour agreement, DFT wins 5% raise for members each year of a two year contract after the union slams the door on any health care rollbacks.
March 1991 - DFT challenges superintendent’s sweeping plans to test and retrain teachers. While the union supports the idea of updating skills, it insists any plans must be negotiated with the DFT.
September 1991 - Board of Education votes to admit females to the all-male academies that were ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. Members return to classes with a 5% pay increase in the second year of a two year contract. A busload of DFT members travels to Washington for Solidarity Day ’91.
Newly appointed general superintendent Deborah McGriff becomes the first Detroit superintendent to come to a DFT membership meeting to meet and talk to teachers face-to-face.
January 1992 - DFT urges members to honor the union’s moratorium on empowering any more schools until the Board of Education negotiates a clear policy on empowerment with the union.
May 1992 - DFT asks Board of Education to supply the contract-mandated extra sets of academic textbooks for grades K-5.
June 1992 - An overwhelming majority of DFT members responding to a union survey support the union’s position on empowerment.
September 1992 - After a bitter four-week strike, DFT wins a pay increase of 4% for 1992-93 and a 3% for 1993-94. The DFT beats back all attempts by the school board to gut contract language on wages, hours and working conditions. The union also wins extra pay for band, choir and orchestra directors for outside school performances as well as for JROTC instructors who coach a drill or rifle team or color guard.
November 1992 -Detroit voters agree with the DFT and labor community that it’s time for a change, defeat three school board incumbents and elect three new members backed by the DFT and labor.
DFT charges Board of Education’s plans to layoff 455 school employees, including 228 DFT members is "a blatant attempt to punish teachers."
January 1993 - School board, backing away from plans to layoff school employees, including teachers, says it will cut programs rather than people.
March 1993 -DFT strongly supports Board of Education’s new focus on improving neighborhood schools.
May 1993 - DFT joins Michigan Federation of Teachers in endorsing Proposal, A which would establish a $4,800 per pupil spending level and cut school millage rates to between 18 and 27 mills. The statewide proposal is defeated by voters.
June 1993 - DFT survey of Building Representatives in late June reveals that many Detroit schools are filthy and crumbling and in desperate need of major repairs. Members also report unsafe conditions in buildings and in school parking lots.
July 1993 - In a late night session, the Michigan Legislature votes to wipe out property taxes for schools without a replacement package in place. The Michigan Federation of Teachers files a court suit to compel the state to restore the funds lost by school property taxes.
September 1993 - Teachers return to work with a 3% pay raise. DFT retirees join public school retirees from across the state to oppose a move by legislators to wipe out current retirement benefits.
October 1993 - Responding to a DFT questionnaire, members report they spend a big chunk of their own money to provide learning materials for their students because they do not get necessary teaching supplies from the school board.
DFT joins petition drive to insure there will be funding for Michigan’s public schools if the Legislature fails to come up with an equitable plan to replace lost school property taxes.
The Detroit Public Schools’ David Snead is appointed superintendent to replace Deborah McGriff who leaves to take a position with Whittle’s Edison project for private management of public schools.
December 1993 - Proposed charters for five Detroit schools violate the DFT’s collective bargaining agreement and state labor law, the union warns the Board of Education.
In a marathon session that lasts till December 24, the Legislature votes to give voters the choice March 15 of replacing lost school property taxes with an increase in the sales tax or the income tax.
February 1994 - The DFT again presses Board of Education for the contract-mandated extra set of academic textbooks.
March 1994 - Voters adopt Proposal A, opposed by the DFT, to increase the sales tax from 4¢ to 6¢ to replace lost school property taxes. Union warns it is unstable method of financing schools.
March 1994 - DFT opens negotiations with Board of Education on a new contract for Detroit teachers. Both sides express hope that an agreement can be reached before school closes in June.
April 1994 - In a midnight session, the Legislature ? without any Democratic votes ? passes an anti-teacher bill, which guts collective bargaining rights of the state’s public school employees.
June 1994 - After several years of foot-dragging, the Board of Education finally agrees to come through with its contract-mandated requirement to provide additional academic textbooks in grades K-5. Two sets of extra texts will be provided to teachers in the 1994-95 school year.
June 1994 - In the first early contract for DFT members since 1989, the DFT wins its two top priorities ? a reduction in class size from 34 to 30 in grades K-5 and a three year contract with guaranteed 3% raises in each year of the contract.
July 1994 - The DFT, Michigan AFL-CIO, Michigan Federation of Teachers and several other unions file suit in Wayne County Circuit Court challenging the constitutionality of Act 122. The suit asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional and to grant injunctive relief against its enforcement. Act 112 is scheduled to go into effect in April 1995.
August 1997 - The DFT wins monetary compensation for teachers in grades K-6 whose class size exceeds the contractual limit of 30, monetary compensation for all teachers who lose preparation periods that are not made up by the end of the school year, adds conjunctivitis to the list of communicable diseases for which teachers will not have sick days assessed against their bank, and wins the right for women to see an OB/GYN without a referral from their primary physician.
The DFT and the board agree to submit salary issues for the 1997-98 and 1998-99 school years to a binding arbitration tri-panel.
January 1998 - The DFT wins a 2% wage increase for the 1997-98 school year, retroactive to July 1, 1997.
May 1998 - For the 1998-99 school year, members receive a guaranteed 2% raise plus the possibility for additional increases tied to a complicated formula proposed by the Board and granted by a three member arbitration panel.
September 1999 - DFT negotiated a three year contract, which assures teachers of a salary equal to 95% of the tri-county median. For the 1999-2000 school year, members shall receive a base salary increase of 2% at Steps 1-9. Members at Bachelors and Masters Step 10 (and Masters + 30 Step 11) shall receive an additional 3.28% salary increase retroactive to July 1, 1999.
For the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 school years, the base salary increase shall be 2%, with members at Bachelors and Masters maximum receiving an additional 2.4% and 2.5% respectively.
Dental coverage was increased from $750 to $1,500 per family member per year.
A comprehensive plan, which will allow for a reduction in class size for grades K-3 in at least 44 schools between the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 school years was also developed.

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