Michigan House Republicans narrowly approved a package of bills they say will help Detroit Public Schools (DPS), but realistically sets the district up to fail and attacks teachers and other state public employees.
The bills, which were unanimously opposed by Democrats in the State House, provide a framework to support Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed DPS reforms but do not include nearly enough funding to accomplish them.
The Republican bills openly attack teachers and other public employees by not recognizing any existing bargaining units and stripping workers of the protections and benefits of their contracts. Additionally, the House package contains punitive anti-strike language that would apply to all Michigan public sector employees. The proposed legislation calls for a state-appointed board that would have the power to require all district employees to reapply for their jobs, allow the district to hire non-certified teachers and institute a merit pay system that ties pay to student standardized test scores.
The package differs substantially from a package approved by the State Senate, which would include adequate funding to help pay down the deficit while still honoring existing worker contracts. While the Senate bills are imperfect, they are much closer to the vision laid out by stakeholders in the city and are the basis for a long-term solution.
The IAM has joined with the AFL-CIO, local labor, business, community and faith based groups to stand up for children and teachers in Detroit.
“This divisive plan by Michigan House Republicans will not solve the crisis facing Detroit Public Schools and is a blatant attack on teachers’ collective bargaining rights, and ultimately all public employees in the state,” said IAM International President Bob Martinez. “The governor must realize that all of labor is mobilizing in support of Michigan’s public workers and veto these bills if they reach his desk.”