The agreement reached after months of controversial negotiations would not necessarily mean that schools would reopen now. Instead, it creates a more viable path to re-opening and suggests that city leaders, if they present their next plan, would likely have more teachers who would be willing to return to the classroom. The president of the Washington Teachers` Union, Elizabeth Davis, said she sent an email to teachers on Thursday to the proposed agreement to assess their reactions and informed the chancellor that she would tell her if she wanted to sign the agreement by Tuesday. The union will not vote formally. The administrative payment allowance is a negotiated allowance only for members of the Union of Teachers of Washington (WTU). The teacher is defined as each ET-15 (including ET-15/12, ET-15/11 and ET-15/10) or DE-9 member of the Washington Teachers` Union. No other DCPS staff member or non-DCPS member is entitled to an administrative bonus. The administrative premium is currently $34 per hour, as indicated in section 36.8.2 of the collective agreement with that union. According to the WTU collective agreement (Article 36.8.1), teachers who work second-job under the following programmes are paid at the rate set for the remuneration of administrative bonuses: according to the agreement, a group of dozens of people – including a union representative – cross each building to ensure that it meets the security conditions agreed before reopening. „The agreed language gives members of the WTU bargaining unit the opportunity, „yes, I will come back“ or „no, I don`t feel safe“ about returning to our school buildings in term 2 and for school communities to visit their schools, to see if there are any necessary improvements before they are reopened,“ Davis wrote Thursday night in a letter to teachers. In exchange, the school system filed an unfair complaint against the union and said the teachers were on strike. The collective agreement between the union and the city – their main contract – prohibits strikes. The city is awaiting a verdict from the employment agency.
The agreement that the WTU has shared with its members stipulates that return to physical classrooms will be optional for all teachers in the second quarter of the academic year, which will begin next week and continue until January. One of the tricky points of the negotiations was that the union was seeking authority to determine whether the buildings met the security requirements. Ferebee said union representatives were not qualified to make the decision. This interim agreement does not give union members that power, but requires all those who are on a passage – including the client, a parent and a union representative – to sign that they participated before the buildings could reopen. The interim agreement also outlines the safety protocols and protective items that should be in each school building before students and teachers arrive. Many of these points have long been agreed and the city says that almost all primary schools are equipped with the security measures set out in the agreement. The union had wanted education to be optional for all, a demand that the Chancellor repeatedly said he could not act on. While the agreement is a trade union concession, he says the union can renegotiate some of the terms of the agreement before the third and fourth quarters of the academic year – a big benefit for teachers. The union and the school system have been negotiating since the summer and are repeatedly approaching an agreement. Tensions have escalated in recent months. Teachers launched a call for virtual learning on 2 November as part of a protest against the re-opening plan.
On the same day, the city canceled its efforts to bring students into classrooms in November.