Teachers’ Union Rejects Calls for Minor Concessions to Save Jobs Says Area Businesses Should Donate $94 Million to MPS

MacIver News Service | June 30, 2011

[MILWAUKEE] The Milwaukee teachers’ union wants area businesses to donate $94 million to solve the district’s financial problems, hoping that will save some of the 519 jobs to be lost on Friday.

Milwaukee Public Schools announced the layoffs on Wednesday.  Dr. Gregory Thornton, MPS superintendent, said at least 200 teachers’ jobs could be saved if the union would have agreed to a 5.8 percent pension contribution from its members.

“We will move into a new school year with a big loss of a lot of talent and a lot of strong educators,” Thornton said.

Of those laid off, 354 are certificated teachers.  Thornton said the district was prepared to weather losing $100 million in stimulus funding, but not the loss of tens of millions of dollars in state funding.  He said as a result of the layoffs, class sizes will be larger, there will be fewer textbooks and fewer summer opportunities.

“The children are being caught in the middle of this,” he said.

Thornton anticipated some of the district’s financial problems earlier this year and, at that time, asked the union for a 1.5 percent pension contribution.  The union said no.

“We must have our union partners at the table,” Thornton said Wednesday. “Yes, we want to keep more teachers on the job, but I am also thinking about our kids.  If we can retain more teachers, we can prevent class sizes from increasing.”

Although the union was not willing to give on the issue of pension contributions, it did direct the district to lay off the most recent hires.

“District administrators worked closely with the teachers’ union to identify candidates for layoff by seniority, following the terms of the negotiated contract,” said Roseann St. Aubin, MPS communications director.

That contract, negotiated last fall, already will ‘save’ the district $94 million over the next two years, according to the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.

“We call on community stakeholders, particularly the business community, to step up and help solve the district’s immediate budget crisis by matching the $94 million,” said Bob Peterson, MTEA president.

MTEA places the blame for MPS’s financial problems solely on Governor Scott Walker and Senator Alberta Darling, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee.  Darling is the subject of a recall election in July.  The other co-chair of the committee, Representative Robin Vos, is not named in the union’s press release. He is not facing a recall election.

  • erp

    They should have told the union to take a hike and don\’t come back.

  • virtualjohn

    If I were a parent there I would start calling for my school district can everyone and post their jobs to be filled at a wage the district can afford. If the MTEA chooses to sue spend the money that would have been spent paying them, fighting them. Cooperation is a two-way street. Negotiation means both sides give. If the union is unable to do that realistically quit trying.

  • AverageJoeTexas, Dallas

    Let the true colors of the Union show, ie. they do not care about the kids, they just use them as a tool to get what they want from the politicians. To the politicians and voters, just say no to the unions, they are bullies and there will never, ever be enough you can give to them. They will always want more and portray you as the oppressor. 5.8% to their own pension, any idea how many people out there would love to have a job and be able to contribute to a pension?

  • Jackson

    Does anyone see the irony here? The ones that are depended upon to educate children cannot seem to comprehend basic economics. I wish they would clean out the mathematics teachers, first. Then go after the ones responsible for aiding in vocabulary enhancement since they obviously are lacking, themselves. They apparently do not understand simple words like budget and priorities. I should hope their support base is shrinking as we tire of hearing their egotistical whining and thinking they are above every other worker in their respective states.

  • charliefre

    I wonder if you added up the donations to democratic campaigns, union bosses salaries and other \’perks\’, the money they spent earlier this year on buses and such for people to attend the rallies, plane tickets and travel expenses to coordinate with their brethren \’ILK\’ in other states, etc … I wonder how many jobs could have been saved? teachers, don\’t you think its time to get rid of the unions who dont care about you and the kids, just their own power and pockets? Then you could teach, for real, isn\’t that why you wanted to become a teacher anyway? AND, America would be on its way back from this progressive nightmare!