DETROIT – While teachers at Michigan’s largest school district were living under a wage freeze, and more recently hearing rumors of possible payless paydays, one school employee who is also president of the local teachers union got a huge raise.
That district is the insolvent and academically challenged Detroit Public Schools, and the union president is Ivy Bailey of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Bailey was listed as a teacher in 2013-14 and earned $70,176. Her salary shot up 31 percent to $91,877 in 2014-15.
Bailey’s compensation is listed in a state salary database of employees enrolled in the school employee pension system. It’s unclear why she was given such a big raise. Michigan Capitol Confidential puts in Freedom of Information Act requests for salary data at the beginning of each fall school year. Some union contracts call for pay increases after the school year has ended.
In 2014-15, Bailey earned $37,742 for teaching and received another $36,381 for, according to the pension database, “other professional business” and $17,754 for “employee professional services leave.” It’s not clear what “other professional business” refers to but like Bailey’s union pay, it does count in the calculations of her public school employee pension.
Part of the increase may be due to Bailey’s promotion to interim union president in August 2015. Bailey took the promotion once former President Steve Conn was ousted by the union’s executive board for misconduct.
The average salary of Detroit Public School teachers was $63,716 in 2014-15, according to the Michigan Department of Education. That’s the most recent data available.
DPS has allowed individuals on the district’s payroll to do union work while clocked in as a district employee in a setup known as “union release time.” In many cases, the individual gets a union salary that can be used to boost an eventual payout from the underfunded school pension system run by the state. As of this school year, DPS had seven employees who were being paid for union work that counted toward their school pension calculations.
The Michigan Senate has voted to eliminate taxpayer-funded union release time, which is costing taxpayers millions annually. But Senate Bill 279, sponsored by Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, is sitting in the Michigan House in the Commerce and Trade Committee, where it has not been taken up.
Bailey and DPS Spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski didn’t return emails seeking an explanation of the breakdown of the salary.
Published with permission