DC teachers’ union ratifies new contract with overwhelming support

The Washington Teachers’ Union approved their long-awaited new contract Tuesday night, with just a handful of unfavorable votes.

Union members overwhelmingly approved their new contract by a vote of 3,445 to 29. It will provide a 12% retroactive raise for the past three years, when teachers worked under an expired contract, and for the current school year, plus a 4% retention bonus for every teacher.



“This is a huge win, not only for D.C. teachers and the respect they deserve, but also for their students and our school community,” said WTU president Jacqueline Pogue Lyons.

“D.C. teachers felt insulted for having to work under a long-expired contract, but they never gave up on their commitment to their kids throughout the COVID-19 challenges and as inflation soared with no pay raises. Teachers deserved better but were buoyed by the enormous support they received from parents and the greater community.”

The teachers’ union represents 5,500 educators in D.C. Public Schools.

Since the contract’s expiration, the union and school system operated under the agreements in the old contract, where teachers did not receive an increase in their base pay. The District’s public school system and the teachers’ union were unable to come to a compromise in July as well.

After months of back-and-forth with the city’s government and failing to reach an agreement in mediation, the union reached a tentative agreement in November over the new contract.

“Hopefully, this contract starts to heal past wounds,” Pogue Lyons said. “When we start negotiations in the next few months on a new contract for the 2023-24 school year and beyond, we look forward to a far more collaborative relationship.”

Some highlights of the four-year contract that runs from the 2019-2020 school year through the 2022-23 school year include:

  • Salary increases are 2%, 2.5%, 3.5% and 4% for each year, respectively, starting in 2019, totaling 12%, plus interest and an additional 4% “signing” bonus for every teacher.
  • Administrative premium, for overtime, increases 50% to $60 an hour.
  • Starting salary goes from $56,313 to just over $63,373. The top salary (for teachers with more than 21 years of service and at least a master’s degree) goes from $116,408 to around $131,000.
  • Beginning teachers will receive a $7,060 increase, and teachers at the top salary step will receive a $14,595 boost.
  • By Sept. 30, 2023, teachers will get a total of between $18,000 to $37,000 for retroactive pay, bonuses and salary increases.
  • All teachers will have at least two morning blocks per week of planning time.
  • A $1,500 stipend for administrative tasks handled by certain special education teachers.
  • A $1,500 stipend for hard-to-fill positions: social workers, psychologists, special education, math, science, world language, speech pathologists, occupational therapists and English as a second language teachers.
  • Teachers will get $250 for classroom supplies, a $50 increase, and athletic trainers will receive an additional $250 to buy training supplies.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is a freelance digital writer/editor at WTOP. She is a recent graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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