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Republicans punishing schools for 100% legal union contracts

Cross-posted from Eclectablog.

This week, Detroit Public School teachers ratified a new union contract that staves off the impact of a new Right to Work law that goes into effect tomorrow. While the contract doesn't give much to the teachers, it at least provides them with continued collective bargaining rights into the future.

With this action, the DPS now joins at least 40 other schools and five universities that face punitive action from Michigan Republicans who seek to deny them and some cities critical funding in a childish act of retribution.

Detroit’s teachers ratified a new contract agreement with Detroit Public Schools today by a margin of 78 percent, the union reported. The contract with DPS will provide an enforceable agreement through 2016, the union said.

DFT President Keith Johnson was pleased that the contract was ratified even though he told union members last week that the new contract was not good – it includes no raises and no class size reductions, among other issues teachers wanted to resolve. But Johnson called the contract a tool to maintain collective bargaining rights for 50,000 students and 4,000 DFT members.

"When you look at the innovative and effective reforms designed to move our students forward, they are usually achieved through collaboration and the collective bargaining process, not through dictating and micro-managing,” Johnson said. "Equally important, this agreement allows us to maintain and enforce class size limitations, administrative support on disciplinary matters, and focus on creating an environment conducive to teaching and learning.

The punitive measures for the schools, universities and municipalities comes in the form of withheld funding:
With right-to-work laws going into effect Thursday, at least 41 school districts and five colleges have approved contracts that allow them to skirt the new and controversial law for at least a few years.

But the education institutions do so at their own risk.

Republicans in the state House of Representatives are furious that districts have found a way to avoid the law by extending their contracts and are threatening to financially punish the districts and institutions, potentially costing them thousands -- and in some cases, millions of dollars. {...}

The cuts, which would take effect if the education and community officials can't prove at least a 10% savings from the contracts, would: cut 15% from state appropriations to universities; eliminate a 2% increase that has been slated for community colleges; cut technology and performance grants for K-12 public schools, and withhold some revenue-sharing funds from communities.

This is the reality: these schools, universities and cities bargained in good faith and signed legal agreements. Had Republicans wanted to make Right to Work take "immediate effect", they could easily have done so (as they have done on so many other occasions despite outrage from Michigan Democrats.) They did not but are now pissed and are taking out their anger in a way that will harm students and taxpayers alike. It's hypocrisy, or "GOPocrisy", at its finest.

I've said it before and I'll say it here again:

It’s not only hypocritical, it’s actually childish. Though they themselves exploit loopholes endless in their march to enact their ideologically-driven agenda, when universities engage in actual good-faith negotiations with their employees which benefit the union members Republicans show such disdain for, they act like a petulant child who doesn’t get what he wants, lashing out to punish the subject of their impotent rage. Only, unlike a petulant child whose temper tantrum affects only himself and his family, the Republicans’ public temper tantrum, driven by their drunk-with-power ideology, is harming Michigan students and workers.

Originally posted to Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by Michigan, My Michigan and Motor City Kossacks.

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