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Detroit Teachers May Face Pay Cut

September 5, 1999

DETROIT (AP) _ Michigan lawmakers could threaten Detroit teachers with the loss of one day’s pay for every day they strike.

The teacher walk-out already has delayed the start of classes by a week, and negotiations continuing into the weekend showed little progress Saturday.

``Obviously there’s a lot of things we can do. I think we can make sure they’re penalized,″ Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow, R-Port Huron, told the Detroit Free Press in Saturday’s editions. If necessary, legislators will be called back next week to force an end to the strike, he said.

``We’ll be in court with an injunction in a second,″ teachers’ attorney George Washington shot back Saturday as negotiators for the district and teachers’ union continued contract talks.

The teachers’ contract expired June 30. The strike began after a two-month extention ran out Monday _ one day before classes in the 172,000-student district were scheduled to begin.

The Detroit strike is the first test of a 1994 state law that increased penalties for teacher walk-outs.

David Adamany, the school district’s interim chief executive, said lawmakers likely will decide to fine teachers one day’s pay for each day they strike.

He said he wasn’t optimistic about a deal being reached in time to open school immediately after Labor Day, as Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer had hoped. The mayor even offered his own office for around-the-clock bargaining, but the teachers’ union declined the offer.

Saturday’s evening, Jim Amar _ the state mediator appointed Aug. 24 _ said only that both sides were ``still hammering away, but it’s tough.″

``There’s no question that if the matter is not resolved, other parties will take action,″ Amar said. He declined to elaborate on which points of the contract have yet to be resolved. Among the top issues for teachers are merit pay and class sizes.

Teachers have won at least one concession _ the withdrawl of a district proposal to extend the school day by 2 hours, to 8 1/2 hours. In return, teachers would not oppose having non-teaching personnel work longer days so the district could offer after-school programs.

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