American Federation of Teachers leader meets with Roy Roberts - KMSP-TV

American Federation of Teachers leader meets with Roy Roberts

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DETROIT (WJBK) -

They came with one mission in mind, the leader and members of the American Federation of Teachers demanding a fair contract for Detroit teachers, a collective bargaining agreement that is collective and an agreement, they hope.

The one now, the protesters said, is a mandate from the emergency manager that doesn't factor their voices in, so union leadership brought in the head of the American Federation of Teachers.

"The time is now to demand a voice for educators and parents in Detroit," said Randi Weingarten.

She told us the emergency manager, Roy Roberts, can take a lesson from his own past.

"He's a car guy. The way in which the car industry has turned around is because of hard negotiations."

The union has many issues with the contract, including leave. From military to maternity, leave for teachers would be compromised under the new agreement, the union argues.

Weingarten sent a letter to Roberts demanding a face-to-face meeting on Friday. He agreed. Her list was as long as her hopes were strong.

"In my heart of hearts, I always have hope. At the end of the day, anybody who actually really believes that public education should be a priority must negotiate," she said.

Before the meeting, it was contentious on the streets. On the inside during the meeting, we understand progress was made with the administration.

"They have not agreed to collectively bargaining. I want to be very clear about that, but at the end of the day they agreed that we need to think about what's going on, and we suggested very firmly and strongly that there needs to be a process," said Weingarten.

Roberts has tackled the schools' deficit, cutting it by $250-million already. In reference to the meeting with Weingarten, he told us, "The meeting was spirited and productive, and we share a commitment to finding a better future for all of us. From my perspective because of this visit, she has a stronger understanding of the challenges we face."

What's next? The union plans to put together a wish list of sorts to Roberts, asking him for the things that they want leading up to what they're hoping will be collective bargaining. That will start on Monday when they turn in their proposal at the Fisher Building.

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