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Union Representing DPS Workers To File Lawsuit Over Wage Concessions

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AFSCME Local 345 President Keith January. (WWJ Photo)

AFSCME Local 345 President Keith January. (WWJ Photo)

DETROIT (WWJ) – A union representing hundreds of Detroit Public School employees plans to file a federal lawsuit over wage concessions being mandated by the district.

AFSCME Local 345, representing Detroit Public Schools special education assistants, bus attendants and food service workers will seek an injunction in federal court to stop the cuts. Local 345 president Keith January said the district is breaking their contract.

Nearly 1,000 of DPS’s lowest paid workers will file a lawsuit in federal court next week to enforce the contract they signed with the state appointed emergency manager on May 15, 2010. The contract saves the school district $10.5 million in wage and benefit concessions and lasts until December 31, 2013.

Now the state is breaking that contract by reducing the average take home pay of these families by 10 percent to around $550 per two-week paycheck while simultaneously increasing healthcare costs.

“Our people are 99 percent federally grant funded and with that, we don’t feel that we should absorb the full blunt. We have no problem paying our fair share but ‘fair’ is the key word,” said January.

DPS employee Joannie Mitchell said another 10 percent pay cut is something she can’t afford.

“For them to keep cutting us down like this, it’s like a no win situation for us,” said Mitchell.

Special Education Aid Sheryl Cotton is in the same boat, saying she can’t afford another 10-percent cut either.

“We’re looking for a part-time job to try and make ends meet until they decide what they’re going to do, because I can’t live off of this income,” said Cotton.

January said seeking an injunction instead of striking insures a prompt start of the 2011-2012 school year.

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