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Flint, MI— Flint teachers protested a three-year pay freeze proposed by the district during a Flint Board of Education meeting on July 21.
The United Teachers of Flint have been negotiating a contract with Flint Schools for over a year, during which time the district has engaged in “specific acts of bad faith” and “regressive” bargaining, Bruce Jordan of the Michigan Education Association said.
Union representatives and teachers marched in front of Accelerated Learning Academy holding signs that read “No Trust” and “Begin to make us whole again!” before heading into the meeting to address the board.
“Our bargaining is stalled,” Union President Karen Christian said. “The district is asking us to take a three-year wage freeze.”
Christian said in the past 12 years, Flint teachers have only received one small pay raise.
“To ask us to take three more is just unconscionable,” she said, adding that the district will soon be coming into massive amounts of federal dollars.
According to Board President Carol McIntosh that number sits around half a billion.
The teachers’ contract expired in July 2020 and the union is currently on an extended contract until a settlement is reached. Negotiations have been ongoing since March 2020.
Jordan told board members that teachers wages were higher in 2003 than they are currently.
“Would any of you stay in an organization where that was the case? It’s no wonder you can’t attract and recruit and retain highly skilled educators,” he said.
He cited a lawsuit he filed on behalf of the union May 19 for unfair labor practices after the district proposed removing two articles from the contract concerning the safety of teachers in their working conditions.
“Your staff has not been made whole from the years and years and years and years and years of concessions that were taken to ensure that Flint Community Schools stays open for the kids of this city. In short, UTF, all these teachers, all these educators, will not accept any additional concessions. Nor will we take any concessions to our staff for consideration,” Jordan told board members.
Felicia Naimark, a speech language pathologist for Flint Schools, said they lost five speech language pathologists this year to districts that pay more.
“I have been with the district for six years. I have had one small increase in that time. And I know others, as it has been mentioned earlier, who have worked years upon years without a raise. Please, bring some offers to the negotiating table,” Naimark said.
Board treasurer Laura MacIntyre said she was “ashamed” of the administration.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make you whole as soon as possible. You need a contract, and you needed that yesterday. I am ashamed be a part of this process of regressive bargaining,” MacIntyre said.
Christian said the union will stick to “informational picketing” for now but is creating an action plan should the administration refuse to negotiate.