Judge Delays Ruling on Detroit Teachers' Strike

A judge on Friday delayed an expected ruling on whether to put a halt to a 12-day-old teachers' strike, saying she was informed that the district and the union were making substantial progress toward a resolution.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Susan Borman said Thursday that she would rule at 10 a.m. Friday unless a tentative agreement was reached. Two-and-a-half hours later, Borman said that she would hold off and give the sides more time to talk.

"We're gratified that the court has taken into consideration that the sides have made substantial progress and that she realizes that the best place to settle this is ... at the bargaining table and not the court," said Keith Johnson, a top aide to Detroit Federation of Teachers President Janna Garrison.

Johnson said it was hard to know when a deal might come, but he said it was possible that a deal reached Friday could mean schools opening Monday.

Borman's comments came as hundreds of teachers marched outside the district's administration building, chanting and cheering and holding aloft signs in support of their nearly two-week walkout.

Michigan's largest public school district has asked Borman for a back-to-work order for the Detroit Federation of Teachers, which struck after rejecting a proposed two-year contract with a 5.5 percent pay cut and health care copays of up to 20 percent.

The teachers walked off the job Aug. 28 at the start of what was supposed to be a week of preparation for classes, which had been scheduled to start this week.

School administrators opened classes Tuesday, then canceled them indefinitely.

Administrators are seeking $88 million in concessions from the union, which also represents about 2,000 non-teaching employees, to help balance the district's $1.36 billion annual budget.

Detroit schools have lost about half their enrollment over the past two decades, and the district has been fighting to stem continuing losses.