Every one of Detroit’s public school teachers is receiving a layoff notice — but that doesn’t mean they will all be fired.
The layoff notices were sent to the 5,466 unionized teachers “in anticipation of a workforce reduction to match the district’s declining student enrollment,” according to a Detroit Public Schools statement. The layoff notices are required as part of the Detroit Teachers Federation collective-bargaining agreement. Non-Renewal notices have also been sent to 248 administrators, and the layoffs would go into effect by July 29.
As Reuters reports, a new law in Michigan gives Detroit Public Schools’ Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb the power to alter collective bargaining agreements and even fire elected officials if he believes it will prevent a financial emergency. And Bobb “fully” intends to use that authority, he said in the statement.
Detroit is certainly not the first school system to issue mass layoff notices. TPM reported in February of a similar case in Providence, Rhode Island. But the layoff notices, of course, are not very appealing to the teachers who receive them.
“We’re just being walked all over, when we are the ones who help educate everyone else to get to the positions they’re in, including the emergency financial manager,” Carla Henry, a high school special education teachers, told the Detroit Free Press. “It took a teacher to educate him.”
The Detroit Federation of Teachers had sharper criticism over Bobb’s threat to alter union agreements.
“If he tries to modify the contract and back-door us on the issue of seniority, we are aptly prepared,” DFT president Keith Johnson told the Free Press. “We have already prepared our legal counter.”
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David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com