DFT president: New DPS contract 'tyrannical edict' - KMSP-TV

DFT president: New DPS contract 'tyrannical edict'

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Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson talks to Fox 2 about a new DPS contract that he calls a "tyrannical edict".  (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com) Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson talks to Fox 2 about a new DPS contract that he calls a "tyrannical edict". (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

"That's what I'm calling it.  The tyrannical edict," said Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson.

After 14 months of back and forth talks, there is now a binding document that seals the deal.  It's the contract that Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts signed off on this week.

Union leadership is less than pleased.  Johnson calls it tyranny.  He did meet with Roberts.  What they talked about, he says, is not reflected in this contract.

"Face to face, man to man, in which he told me repeatedly he had absolutely no interest in obviating our collective bargaining agreement, and that is exactly what he has done."

Steve Wasko, spokesperson for DPS, won't get into what's in the contract, but says Roberts has the power of the pen to set the terms of the contract under his emergency manager powers.

"Under Public Act 4, Mr. Roberts has the ability to impose a contract.  This actually took place after a series of discussions, a series of meet and confer sessions.  Negotiations are not required under Public Act 4.  What is required is that there be some discussion."

Roberts has complete control over how this contract will look because of his powers as an emergency manager, and so the unions, they tell us this is not a collective, not bargaining and certainly not an agreement of any sort and because of this, the school year may not start on time.

"Only thing I can tell you, Roop, is where my commitment is," Johnson remarked.  "I can tell you right now that this document would not make my members happy at all."

Johnson says teachers on military or maternity leave or disability could be hurt under language in the contract.

"I think it's in everybody's best interest for the school year to start on time.  It certainly is in the best interest of this community and our parents and their children that have entrusted us with the educational program that we've provided them," said Wasko.

The union cites examples of how they've negotiated with management before in 2009 to help save the district millions of dollars.  They say they are willing to do that again, but they do not want this to be a dictate or a mandate.

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