The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 9, 1999 - 19A
Detroit teachers agree to end
strike, set to begin school today
DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's striking teachers voted
overwhelmingly yesterday to return to work in the
morning, ending an extended summer vacation for
Teachers approved a temporary extension of their
old contract until the union can hold a secret vote by
mail to decide whether to ratify the deal reached
Monday between negotiators for the school district
and the 1,500-member Detroit Federation of Teachers.
Teachers went on strike Aug. 30, one day before
classes were to begin, after rejecting their union's pro-
posal for a 10-day contract extension while t1lks about
the new contract continued.
Thousands of teachers attended yesterday morn-
ing's meeting on the temporary act at Cobo Center,
debating for about 90 minutes before ending the strike
on a voice vote.
"It was more than what we expected. We got an
overwhelming vote of confidence from our mem-
bers," said union negotiator Keith Johnson. "It's
certainly an improvement from what was initially
David Adamany, the district's interim chief execu-
tive, welcomed the teachers back to school.
"We are very pleased with the teachers' decision to
return to school immediately. We believe that the
return to schools will allow Detroit Public Schools to
maintain the momentum that was developed for
improvements in the school system," Adamany said in
a written statement.
Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, who took control of
the ailing district last spring after Gov. John Engler
called for changes in Detroit's education system,
scheduled a late afternoon news conference to discuss
Schools in Detroit, the nation's 10th-largest city,
have been beset by mismanagement and chronically
low test scores, attendance and graduation rates,
prompting the state Legislature to vote to remove the
elected school board and replace it with a board
appointed by Archer.
But some of the reforms proposed by the new board
- including a longer school day and merit pay -
Bruce Spingsteen and the E Street Band, including saxaphonist Clarence
Clemons, left, perform at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills last
*system was unfair
Members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers debate whether to return to work at a meeting yesterday in A
Detroit. The union later ratified an agreement and returned to work this morning.
were sidelined when the teachers voted to strike. to help advance the reforms, insisted that merits ay
The new three-year contract dropped the district's still could be imposed without union approval. He id
merit pay plan, which proposed that teachers receive the Michigan Employment Relations Commission
raises only in those schools whose test scores would be asked to decide the issue.
improved. The union argued such a plan would be But Ruth Okun, the commission's director, said yes-
unfair to top teachers in lower-performing schools. terday that the commission doesn't have the power to
But the teachers pushed for and partially got anoth- give an advisory opinion on merit pay. Adamany
er reform: a plan to reduce class size. The tentative would first have to take some action, then the unon
agreement grants their demand starting next year, but would have to file a complaint, before her departnent
only in kindergarten to third grade. could review it, she said. 1
"Reforming this district is not an overnight process. The district dropped its proposal to lengthen F he
It will take years of planning, evaluation and revalua- school day from 6 hours to 8 1/2 hours. Teachers had
tion" said union President John Elliott. "I'm glad it said making classes smaller was a more important
(the contract) turned out the way it did. But we still reform. But the tentative agreement would impse
have a long way to go. more restrictions on unexcused absences of teachers,
For example, Adamany, hired as head of the district a board priority.
LANSING (AP) - A lawsuit has
been filed charging that Michigan
insurance companies billed many state
motorists when they refunded $1.2 bil-
lion last year in premiums.
The suit says that, by reimbursing
motorists insured as of March 18, 1998,
the insurance companies missed giving
money to many people who had paid
into the system for years but were not
insuried on that date.
"The distribution system was
arbitrary, capricious and fundamen-
tally unfair" because it missed such
motorists and paid the same amount
to each person regardless of how
long they'd been paying for such
coverage, the class-action lawsuit
It asks the court to adjust the SI180
refundsto reflect the correct amounts,
md to order that a more accurate reim-
,ursement system be used in the future.
be suit was filed in Wayne County
The attorney representing drivers
ctallenging the distribution said pick-
irg a single date as the one on which
divers qualified or failed to qualify for
tIr rebate wasn't fair.
"Being simple doesn't make it right,"
sad Detroit attorney Stephen Wasinger,
adling that no hearings have been slat-
edin the case.
gut Doug Cruce, president of the
Mithigan Insurance Federation,
caled the lawsuit's arguments
"We see his as a group of attorneys
out fishing for a lawsuit," he said. "The
combanies had no choice...It was
refunded exactly the way it was collect-
Crice argued that the only fair way
to refind money was to reimburse peo-
ple wio had insurance coverage on a
Know OF NEWS?
"What's the logic
moved out of
state? There's no
question" it was
- Doug Cruce
President of the Michigan
"Where's the logic of returning
something to somebody who's
moved out of state?" he asked.
"There's no question" it was done
The refund was ordered by the
Michigan Catastrophic Claims
Association, a private board of
insurance companies. The fund pays
medical claims above $250,000 for
those severely injured in auto acci-
Gloria Freeland, general manager of
the MCCA, said Wednesday she had no
comment on the lawsuit, which was
assigned to Circuit Judge Daphne
Last year's refund came after it as
reported the MCCA fund's surplus
had grown to $2.5 billion. The
MCCA board bowed to legislative
pressure and returned $1.2 billion to
This year, motorists are paying $5.60
for each vehicle insured to support the
catastrophic claims fund.
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