Union Tactics Hurt Younger Teachers

MacIver News Service – [Milwaukee, Wisc…] This week the Milwaukee Public School District sent layoff notices to 700 educators, including 500 teachers. However, less than 200 people turned out for a rally Monday protesting the cuts, and most of those in attendance were not the ones being laid off.

That’s not surprising since MPS has been discussing the layoffs for months, and teachers have ignored the budget discussions all year.

As we reported in April:

“We must control costs,” said MPS Superintendent William Andrekopoulos, “The benefit rate we project for next year is more than 74%. The District cannot sustain that. We are providing millions for benefits that we could be using to keep teaching staff and buy supplies.”

Excessive fringe benefit costs, which have driven the average teacher compensation in Milwaukee Public Schools to more than $100,000 a year, could lead to the elimination of 682 positions within the district next year.

The District has told the local teachers’ union that they could have avoided layoffs if they were to agree to the lower-cost health benefits package that is now one of two options teachers currently have.

As the MPS Board deliberated the budget this spring, attendance at the public meetings was anemic.

The union has not accepted the more cost-effective health benefits plan, and earlier this month the MPS Board passed the budget which included the elimination of several positions.

The layoffs are done by seniority, which puts the youngest, newest teachers at the most risk of losing their jobs. These same teachers say their union did not keep them informed of the ongoing budget deliberations or the fact that their positions were at risk.

Several of the teachers we spoke with Monday questioned the union’s position and communication efforts.

MacIver’s Bill Osmulski reports from Milwaukee: