WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The Washington Teachers Union delivered a petition filled with more than 1,700 signatures to the Mayor’s office Monday, demanding a fair contract for DCPS teachers.

“We had over 1,700 of our teachers, staff, students and members of the community sign a petition to give the teachers a fair contract,” said Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President of the WTU. “We want fair compensation, fair benefits and we want teachers to have the time to plan for our students during a time that has been unprecedented.”

Teachers have been working for three years without a contract.

Pogue Lyons said the District has one of the highest teacher turnover rates in the country. And, that teachers are feeling the extra weight. The union would like to see that reflected in a new contract.

“They’re deeply concerned about the turnover, they’re deeply concerned and overwhelmed with the extra work they and their colleagues have to do,” she said.

She also said District leadership has not been at the table, slowing down the process.

“I’ve been at every single negotiation, mediation and arbitration session that’s been held since I became president in May of 2021. I can’t say the same for the Chancellor. And I definitely can’t say the same for the Mayor,” said Pogue Lyons.

Mayor Muriel Bowser disputed that.

“The Washington Teachers Union needs to say ‘yes’ to an outstanding offer that’s on the table,” said Bowser.

Bowser said disagreements within the union are leading to delays.

“I’m starting to think that the leadership of the WTU, because they can’t agree with each other, they want it to go to arbitration and that’s not fair to the teachers. That is going to delay their money. They should have their money right now. We need someone on the other side that could say yes,” said the Mayor.

Pogue Lyons said that members of the union are on the same page.

Legally, she could not divulge details of the current offer from the District. She said arbitration is set to happen from November 12th to the 16th.

“The Mayor says she wants the teachers to get backpay, full back pay, we agree with that. But, we also want our teachers to be fairly compensated,” said Pogue Lyons.

“It would be better to sit at the table and have a partner on the other side that could say, ‘yes, I want our teachers to get their raise.’ They’re long overdue. They should’ve had them in June. It’s time for the WTU to get to the table,” said Bowser.