Thursday, June 25, 2009

Public Employee Relations Act KILLS JOBS!

Contact your state representative and urge them to eliminate job killing provisions inserted into House Bill 4788 (HB 4788). The bill would mandate that the privatization of support staff would be subject to collective bargaining. Whoever (Rep. Bert Johnson and Tim Melton) slipped this garbage into this legislation should be subject to mandatory drug screening. That may seem harsh but consider this, in Birmingham we contracted our transportation and custodial services. This was not an easy decision, but we SAVED over $3.5 MILLION annually by doing this. Where did that money go? It went to KEEP TEACHERS EMPLOYED. Out of all the school districts in Oakland county we are the only one that did not announce massive teacher layoffs for the coming school year. This is why districts contract non-classroom services, to save money for programs and teachers. Why in the world would these two legislators insert job killing language in the face of the worst economic crisis Michigan has ever faced? As I speculated, maybe a test is in order.

Contact your representative and urge them to eliminate the changes to PERA from HB 4788, or ask them to remove the "tie bar" to the other education bills. The "tie bar" is a tactic to gain approval of multiple bills together. This bill has been tie barred to House Bills 4787 and 4789.


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Geoff said...

Mr. Lawrence,

I agree with you that it is very important to save money and to keep as many jobs in the Birmingham Public Schools as possible, so that we can retain the quality reputation that we have worked so hard to have for the past 25 years or so (even before Dr. Hoeffler was superintendent). These are tough economic times not only for the district, but for the state as well. Teachers, paras, secretaries along with parents and students feel the pinch every single day. But I must beg to differ with a couple of facts in this particular post.

First off with your claim that we (BPS) are the "only [school district] that did not announce massive teacher layoffs for the coming school year." Your link leads to West Bloomfield's layoff of 84 teachers. If you're looking for more specific examples, you could have also included the Southfield schools that let go 104 teachers, according to their board meeting summary of June 9, 2009. But in those same minutes they said that they would lay off more people than necessary b/c the "bumping" process takes time and 32 have already been recalled. Pontiac Schools is another “massive” example with their tremendous number of layoffs (over 700 unionized district employees) and school privatization schemes. Or even the entire teaching staff of Madison School District that was laid off in April. I’d say that was massive. Thank goodness the Madison school board had the good sense to call back almost all of their teachers.

The massive numbers, however, just don’t appear in other Oakland County school districts. Lake Orion laid off 10 teachers b/c of kindergarten program change (, Royal Oak laid off 17 teachers but recalled all but 5 ( Avondale laid off 5.5 teachers but hired 2.5 security workers (, and Brandon School District laid off one music teacher. But, you might say, these districts only have one high school or are smaller than ours. Yes, I would agree (w/o looking up actual numbers), but in Troy Schools’ case, they actually hired new teachers for the upcoming school year. And please don’t say it was b/c they privatized some of their unionized services (custodians, hall guards, and bus drivers). They had a “massive” buyout of teachers this spring after the district had afforded another popular opportunity only four or five years ago. It was this buyout that allowed Troy to be able to keep teachers and actually hire new ones.

Geoff Wickersham