The threat of payless paydays has led to massive school closures in the Detroit public schools for the second straight day.
At least 94 of the district’s 97 schools are closed today after a teachers’ union protest shut down nearly all the campuses Monday.
The teachers’ union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, was expected to host a downtown rally for its members this morning in response to news that some members may not be paid for work they’ve already done.
Over the weekend, Detroit schools transition manager Steven Rhodes said the district, which is more than $500 million in debt, will run out of money at the end of June and won’t be able to pay teachers or fund summer programs. That could leave teachers who are paid over the entire year, rather than just during the school year, without paychecks they’re banking on.
With no guarantee that those members will be paid, union leadership has described the situation as a lockout, not a sickout.
“Their failure to give us that guarantee is tantamount to a lockout,” a message on the union website reads.
“Let’s continue to stand strong together to win this fight for great schools where students get the education they need, and where educators are supported and respected.”
The union protests comes at a time when state lawmakers are weighing a $715 million aid package to save the district from financial collapse. Detroit schools leaders are concerned the teacher protests could sink efforts to pass the legislation.
“We want to apologize for the inconveniences caused by today’s teacher sickouts. We remain confident that the funding issues for [Detroit Public Schools] will be resolved, and have been working daily with Lansing to move the reform legislation forward,” a message on the Detroit public schools website reads.
“We encourage all [Detroit Public Schools] families to contact their legislators to share their opinion on the pending legislation and to reach out directly to the [Detroit Federation of Teachers] with your response to their actions.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.