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DC public school teachers rally for better wages, working conditions

DCPS and the teacher's union haven't agreed on a labor contract in three years.

WASHINGTON — Instead of Thursday morning announcements, people at the Anacostia Metro stop got a morning message from D.C. public school teachers.

“What do we want? New contracts! When do we want them? Now!” the chant rang above the morning commute.

The Washington Teacher’s Union rallied before the sun came up. A group of educators and parents picketed and chanted. They tried to raise awareness about the education situation in the District.

“Our teachers haven't had a contract for three years,” Jacqueline Pogue Lyons the Union president said.

The homemade signs outside the stop said it all. Teachers feel under paid, overworked, and overstressed

“We (love) our jobs but can’t afford them!” one sign read. Another said, "DCPS all we want is a contract with fair wages!”

“We all know that good working conditions make good learning conditions and great outcomes for our children,” Pogue Lyons said.

So why haven’t the union and DCPS reached agreement in three years?

Pogue Lyons said its come down to pay and working conditions (like class size) to name a few.

The end result: a stalemate in negotiations and now arbitration.

“The mayor says that she wants this to be a city for educators, we agree,” Pogue Lyons said. “It’s time for action, no more words!”

The rally followed an early week release of the Teacher’s Union’s annual job satisfaction survey. Union leaders said the results showed a demoralized teaching staff across the district. One of the more glaring facts: 69% of D.C. teachers said they have considered leaving their jobs over the last few years.

Union leader said this points to a bigger problem: teacher turnover. Pogue Lyons said D.C. has a higher turner over ratio than the national average.

WUSA9 reached out to DCPS and mayor’s office to get a comment on the District’s side of negotiations. We have not heard back from anyone yet. When we do, we will update this story.

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