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Detroit Public School Teachers Feel the Fire of New Emergency Mgr. Law

July 29, 2011

Well, that didn’t take long!  The Public Act 4 of 2011, or more commonly known as: The Emergency Manager Law has just been invoked by the new emergency manager in Detroit  – Roy Roberts.  The law gives an unprecedented amount of power to one individual in my opinion and this is just another reason why people need to be careful who they vote for as Republicans in this country are stripping away the rights of the middle class as we speak.

From the article:

One month after warning union workers that they would see a 10% wage cut next school year, Roy Roberts, the emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools today announced that he has used a new controversial law to impose $81 million in wage concessions starting next month.

All 10,000 workers in the district – union and nonunion – will see a 10% cut in their paychecks on Aug. 23 and will begin to pay 20% of health care benefits costs Sept. 1. 

The decision marks the first time that the Public Act 4 of 2011 – the new emergency manager law – has been used to modify collective bargaining agreements. 

The cuts will impact everyone from teachers to principals, executive staff and Roberts. The concessions take the place of previous concessions agreements, including furlough days. Teachers also will no longer have to defer $250 per paycheck for the Termination Incentive Plan that helps the district’s cash flow problems.

Imagine that!  You have a valid contract, you work hard, you are a devoted school employee who cares about their students, and all of a sudden your world changes.  The gist of the emergency manager law is that it allows contracts to be voided without negotiations!

I ask people to remember back to the banking crises when there was a huge uproar about bankers’ salaries.  Does anyone remember one of the excuses given at the time by those in power in order to protect the pay packages of the bankers?  Well, I do.  It went something like this: “These employees have CONTRACTS, and contracts are VALID under the laws in the United States, if we amend these contracts we will be breaking the sacred tenets of contract law that have existed in this country for generations.”

You see, if you are breaking UNION contracts, it is fine and dandy in some parts of this country, but if you want to reduce the pay of the people who are responsible for the second worst financial disaster this country has ever seen…well, you are Un-American.

Last month, when Roberts released the 2011-12 budget, he announced that he would impose the cuts. Public Act 4 allows the state-appointed emergency manager to modify or terminate a union contract after meeting and conferring with union representatives. The concessions are being imposed after 45 “meet and confer” sessions with union representatives, according to DPS.

Other cuts announced today will impact the teachers union’s step increases, bonuses, sick leave payouts and other measures. The district’s plan will:

• suspend payments for any sick days remaining unused at the time of an employee’s retirement; 

• suspend implementation and payment of any annual increments; 

• suspend payments for oversized classes to teachers in kindergarten through Grade 12;

• suspend payment of any longevity bonus;

• suspend payment for any preparation periods lost by the teachers;

• suspend payments of any certification bonuses,

• suspend any premium payments for special education personnel 

%bull; and suspend payments of any assault pay.

In addition to the 10% wage cut and 20% benefits contribution, the other union employees contracts will be changed to:

• suspend payments by the district for any sick days remaining unused at the time of an employee’s retirement,

• suspend payment of any longevity bonus 

• and suspend implementation and payment of any annual increments.

I submit to any teacher reading this that the time to get active and start becoming involved in who gets elected is NOW!  The issue of backing the right candidates is of the utmost importance right now in this point of history.  You see, teachers are one of the last unionized voting blocks that the political right-wing can’t stand.  They have busted unions and the middle class along with them all over this nation and will not be happy until we are all beholden to deep-pocketed interests like the Koch Brothers and their surreptitious organizations.

This is not hyperbole, the right-wing in this country is voting to strip away any protections that teachers have in this country.  Teachers are taking a major step across this country tomorrow with the Save Our Schools March.  Check this link for a local march in your state.

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