DC teachers’ retroactive pay delayed due to ‘administrative complications,’ union says

D.C. teachers will receive retroactive pay about a month later than expected. The money is due to teachers as part of a new Washington Teachers’ Union contract with the city, the union said Monday.

As part of the new contract with the city, WTU members who have been working since the 2020-21 school year were due to get retroactive pay increases for the three years they worked without a new contract. It was scheduled to be paid out May 19, but city administrators told the union that teachers will instead receive partial retroactive pay on that date, and the rest by June 16.

In a news release, the union, representing over 5,000 city educators, said the city attributes the delay to “administrative complications.”

“This union and our teachers want to rebuild the trust, but you only really rebuild trust with consistency,” WTU President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons told WTOP. “This is not working on consistency, by finding out during Teacher Appreciation Week that money you were counting on won’t be coming. They have promised to get partial payment, but teachers were counting on full payment. And so it’s disappointing and upsetting.”

A city spokesperson said, “All WTU members will receive a partial retroactive payment on May 19 and the remaining amount on June 16. This delay is to ensure every WTU member receives the correct payment amount for what they are owed. We are working in good faith to ensure the payments are made as quickly as possible to WTU members.”

In a memo to the union, City Administrator Kevin Donahue said processing the payments “is extremely complicated and made more difficult by the 12 collective bargaining agreements the District has negotiated and finalized this fiscal year.”

The agreement with the WTU is the “largest and most complicated” of those union agreements, Donahue wrote.

Each payment, Donahue wrote, has to be validated by a validation team and D.C. Public Schools to make sure it’s accurate. Such validation typically takes about eight weeks and ensures the city doesn’t overpay or underpay employees.

The city, Pogue-Lyons said, also won’t be able to pay bonuses for hard-to-fill positions or stipends for special education teachers until the end of the school year.

“Teachers don’t get to make excuses,” Pogue-Lyons said. “We have to be ready every day, all day to teach our children. And we are, and we should be. So it’s just hard at this point after waiting so long for this contract.”

The union’s new contract, ratified in December, was its first since the last agreement expired in 2019.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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