DPS Teacher Unions Fight Roberts' Cuts To Employee Pay

Published On: Oct 02 2011 04:34:58 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 04 2011 07:16:14 AM EDT

Members of Detroit Public Schools teacher unions delivered a response to Emergency Manager Roy Roberts' order to cut employee pay by 10 percent.

Union members said they are going to file a federal lawsuit against Roberts and the Michigan state treasurer.

"This is an action that we did not wish to take. This is an action that we should not have to take," said Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

The three unions representing 10,000 DPS employees are suing after Roberts used a new state law to impose the 10-percent pay cut and an increase in health care cost.

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Johnson said employee assault pay also has been cut and that an employee can only collect worker's compensation pay if he or she is attacked by a student.

"How dare you tell someone that being injured on the job -- often defending a child -- that all they can receive is worker's comp," Johnson said. "If it sounds like I am angry, I am not going to apologize, because I am."

DPS said the cuts are mandatory and will save $81 million for the district that is $327 million in debt.

The lawsuit was meant to stop the cuts, but it was filed Thursday afternoon, after Robert's imposed them. The unions say that the way the cuts are being imposed under the new state law is unconstitutional.

Roberts said this has to happen because there just is not enough money to give.

"Me and you, and everyone else I know, have had to adjust their budgets because these are desperate times," Roberts said. "I think that's the real issue. I am here for one reason, because there is an emergency. There is an academic deficiency and there is a financial issue that we have got to fix. People keep acting like there is not an emergency saying, 'Give me more, more, more.' There is no more."

Roberts said the unions sent him a letter Thursday saying they want to hash all of it out.

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