Do Not Withhold Teachers’ Wages

by: Andrew Jameson

Target: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

Goal: Approve restructuring plan that will guarantee teachers payment for their work.

Teachers across Detroit collectively called out sick for a day in response to the school district’s announcement that it could not pay them past June. Educators that agreed to receive their compensation throughout the year, instead of only while school was in session, are being threatened with losing wages that they have already earned. Ninety-four out of 97 schools in Detroit were forced to close on Monday, after a “sickout” was organized by the teachers’ union. A similar protest was staged in January, but the school district has only plunged deeper and deeper into financial ruin — it is estimated that the district currently has more than 3 billion dollars in debt.

Mayor Mike Duggan responded to the January sickout by saying there was “no question about the legitimacy of the issues they’re raising,” further adding that in a recent tour of schools, he found a dead mouse and students wearing coats indoors for warmth. Other officials have been less sympathetic. Steven Rhodes, in charge of the now state-run operation of Detroit’s educational budget, has called this week’s sickout “counterproductive and detrimental.” Governor Rick Snyder has said that the sickout is “not a constructive act with respect to getting legislation through.”

Despite Snyder’s criticism, he has offered little by way of his own constructive acts. Legislation that outlines a restructuring plan is waiting for the governor’s approval. Without this plan in place, teachers will be asked to go on working without guaranteed pay. Sign the petition below to demand that the Michigan governor immediately approve restructuring plans that would guarantee teachers in Detroit the compensation they are entitled.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Snyder,

The financial crisis looming over Detroit’s schools has gone from bad to worse. A second “sickout” organized by teachers reflects the desperation experienced throughout the city’s educational community. They can hardly be blamed in the wake of announcements that compensation cannot be guaranteed past June.

These teachers have already earned their wages. Withholding those wages cannot be considered an option, as these social servants are in need of more, not less, support. A restructuring plan has been approved by the senate and awaits you to follow suit. By delaying this legislation, you are guilty of the counter-productivity with which you have characterized teacher protests.

I urge you to immediately approve the restructuring plan and begin to rebuild a school system that has fallen apart.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]  

Photo credit: Andrew Jameson

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